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Hangovers, not safe drinking standards, influence alcohol consumption, says study

Do you remember the morning after a night of heavy partying and binge drinking? Although getting high seemed to be great fun the night before, the next morning hangovers are regretted by almost everybody. It is literally a feeling of dread accompanied by pounding headaches, unquenchable thirst, tiredness, lack of motivation, and depression. The memory of killer hangovers is actually what is urging people to cut down on their alcohol consumption rather than the health implications, claims a recent study by researchers from the Oxford Brookes University (OBU).

The joint study, conducted by the researchers from the University of Liverpool and Headington University, compared the government’s official safe drinking limit with what people thought was their safe limit. While only four percent respondents considered long-term health implications while deciding their drinking limit, less than two percent confessed to not paying attention to government guidelines while deciding their limit. The study findings were published in the journal Psychology & Health in May 2019.

How much is too much?

According to official guidelines, 14 grams of pure alcohol and approximately 140 ml or 5 ounces of wine is considered to be a unit of alcohol. To keep the risk of alcohol-related health consequences at a minimum, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that the consumption of alcohol should not exceed 14 units per week.

Dr Emma Davies, senior lecturer of Psychology at the OBU, said that according to their study findings, the current challenge faced by the society was in finding a way of integrating medical findings highlighting the dangers of alcohol with experiences of people who actually consumed alcohol. She further added that people who drank alcohol created their own limits of safe drinking without proper guidance or knowledge.

Personal limits based on previous negative experiences

Majority of the study participants acknowledged to setting short-term limits of safe drinking based on previous negative experiences, especially hangovers. Though, people set these limits, these were not based on associated medical risks.

Some of the symptoms of hangover are:

  • Headache
  • Thirst, dehydration
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Stomach pains, diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Disruption of sleep patterns
  • High fever accompanied by shivers
  • Depression
  • Feeling of guilt and regret

Dr Mark Burgess, reader in the Department of Psychology, Health and Professional Development at OBU, suggested that a new approach to public health interventions highlighting the dangers of alcohol consumption was needed. He further added that people with negative experiences were more likely to respond to interventions after crossing the drinking limits set by themselves. But people who did not experience negative experiences were less likely to cut down their limit even if it was harmful for their health.

Seeking Alcohol Addiction Treatment

The 2017 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) report showed that there were approximately 140.6 million current alcohol users in the country aged 12 years and above. Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of major health problems. It impacts professional goals, personal achievements, and relationships. Prolonged use of alcohol further worsens the damaging complications. Alcohol is also the second most common cause of preventable deaths in the United States.

If you or a loved one is battling an addiction to alcohol and is looking for a reliable residential alcohol addiction treatment center, get in touch with the 24/7 Recovery Helpline. We can connect you with licensed alcohol abuse treatment centers offering evidence-backed alcohol addiction treatment programs. For more information about alcohol treatment programs, call our 24/7 alcohol treatment helpline 855-441-4405 and speak to our admission counsellor. You can also chat online with a representative to discuss your alcohol addiction treatment options.

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