Researchers say people with a family history of alcoholism seem to recall the misery of a hangover more than other people do, even though their hangovers probably aren’t any worse.
Anyone with this kind of family history has a higher risk of developing a drinking problem, the researchers said. The new study was designed to see if hangovers affected this risk at all.
“We started off this research by questioning whether hangovers might impact on problem drinking, either positively by providing a natural curb on excessive drinking, or negatively should some drinkers feel compelled to drink through a hangover, known as ‘the hair of the dog’ drinking,” said study author Richard Stephens, a psychologist at Keele University in England.
Stephens’ team asked 142 people about their hangovers over the last 12 months and found that the 24 participants with a family history of alcoholism recalled more frequent hangover symptoms than the others in the study.
In another experiment, the researchers interviewed 49 people after a night of drinking and found that the 17 with a family history of alcoholism were no more likely to have a hangover but remembered their hangover more clearly.
“Taken together with findings from prior research it appears that people who are predisposed to develop problem drinking are no more susceptible to developing a hangover after a night of alcohol than people who are not predisposed.” Stephens said in a school news release.
“However, we found that such people appear to remember their hangovers more lucidly,” he added.
“It may be possible to exploit this lucid memory for hangovers to curb excessive drinking. Reminding problem drinkers of the negative consequences of incapacitating hangover, for example, letting down family members due to abandoned plans, may help them to manage their alcohol consumption,” he concluded.
The study was published online in the journal Psychopharmacology.
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more on alcohol and your health.