5th March, 2014 by Rupert Millar
A hangover does not deter people reaching for a drink a new study has found, raising questions about better ways to deter problem drinkers.
A team from the University of Missouri asked 386 young adults – many of them college students – to keep a log of their drinking for three weeks.
Each morning they were to log their likelihood of drinking later that day and if they were hungover or not.
The idea was to see if a hangover made short-term drinking more or less likely – if the respondents would try the “hair of the dog” approach or abstain completely.
However, the researchers found that hangover sufferers were just as likely to say they would drink later in the day as non-hangover sufferers.
The team concluded that their research filled in a “basic piece of the puzzle concerning hangovers and alcoholism”.
Thomas Piasecki, professor at the Department of Psychology Sciences said: “If hangovers don’t strongly discourage or punish drinking, links between current problem drinking and frequent hangover seem less incongruent.
“If hangovers don’t generally hasten drinking, we can rule out a direct causal role of hangovers in the acceleration of problem drinking.”
Another member of the study team, Damaris Rohsenow, professor of behavioural and social sciences at Bown University, added that trying to deter a problem drinker by warning them of hangovers was a “waste of time”.
She continued that drinkers were more likely to look back on the pleasures of drinking the night before rather than dwell on their present discomfort.
“The pain of hangover is temporary, and may be considered a nuisance rather than an important negative consequence. Some studies show that younger drinkers do not consider hangovers to be a negative experience, and that many drinkers are willing to experience hangovers time after time,” she said.
The full study will be published in the May issue of “Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research”.