Hangover sensitive drinkers report higher levels of anxiety and stress than hangover resistant drinkers

G. Bruce*, A. Merlo, M. Mackus, A.J. Van De Loo, J. Verster

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting Abstract


    IntroductionAlcohol hangover is defined as the combination of mental and physical symptoms experienced the day after a single episode of heavy drinking, starting when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) approaches zero [1]. Alcohol hangover is the most commonly reported consequence of alcohol consumption with most drinkers reporting experiencing hangover symptoms following a night of heavy drinking. There is however a minority of drinkers who claim not to experience alcohol hangover in spite of drinking at levels at which hangover would be expected. These drinkers can be classed as hangover resistant [3]. While hangover resistance has been reported in a number of studies, there is no definitive reason for its occurrence and recent research has failed to show physical differences between hangover sensitive and hangover resistant drinkers. A recent study showed no difference in breath alcohol concentration after an acute alcohol challenge and showed no difference in time taken for breath alcohol concentration to return to zero [2]. This would suggest that hangover sensitive and hangover resistant drinkers do not necessarily process alcohol differently. Consequently, it may be that psychosocial differences are more influential in hangover resistance and this warrants further investigation.

    AimThe purpose of this study was to investigate and compare self reported depression, anxiety and stress levels in two distinct groups of social drinker: those who are hangover resistant and those who are hangover sensitive.

    MethodsThe Depression Anxiety Stress Scale was administered to 986 social drinkers between the ages of 18-30 as part of an online study of student drinkers in the Netherlands. Alcohol consumption information on recent drinking experiences was gathered, and in line with other studies on hangover resistance, to ensure that the resistant group had consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol to be considered drunk, only participants with an eBAC > 0.11 were included in the analysis. Participants who met this criteria were divided into two groups based on whether they experienced a hangover after a night of heavy drinking during the past year. N=743 were assigned to the sensitive group and N=243 to the resistant group.

    ResultsA significant difference was observed between the two groups the DASS-21 stress scale (p=0.017) and DASS-21 anxiety scale (p=0.034) compared to the resistant group with hangover resistant participants reporting lower levels of stress and anxiety than hangover sensitive drinkers. No significant differences were shown between the groups on the depression score.

    ConclusionThese results suggest than hangover resistance is associated with lower levels of stress and anxiety adding to the growing body of evidence that psychosocial differences are present between hangover sensitive and hangover resistant individuals. Further research is required to examine other psychosocial factors which may differ between the two groups and also and to determine if these findings generalise beyond a sample of 18-30 year old Dutch students.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberP.743
    Pages (from-to)S500-S500
    Number of pages1
    Issue numberSupplement 6
    Early online date13 Dec 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019


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