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Would a hangover cure lead to higher consumption?

By philipedwards, Dec 7 2018 01:47PM

December 7, 2018

What if we had a cure for hangovers or an alternative drink which didn’t cause one? A recent survey of 1,837 Dutch students suggests that a hypothetical hangover cure would be popular but wouldn’t change the amount of alcohol individuals consumed1. Almost 70% of participants said they would buy an effective hangover cure if such a thing became available1. However, only 13.4% suggested that this would increase their alcohol consumption the night before1. Many claimed that the risk of having a hangover is not a key influencer in drinking behaviour.

This new research opposes the common belief which has been adopted by several researchers; that decreasing hangovers would encourage alcohol dependence and abuse2.

A group at Utrecht University have recently observed that alcohol consumption and even maximum blood alcohol concentration does not necessarily correlate with hangover severity3. This may explain why several students would not change their drinking behaviours if the risk of hangover was reduced.

However, the reasons the participants gave were:

“The risk of having a hangover does not influence my drinking behaviour”

“alcohol is a harmful substance”

“I do not want to become more drunk than I already am when drinking”

“I cannot consume more alcohol than I already do”

“I consume alcohol to have a good time, so no reason to increase the amount.1”

This actually makes sense when you think about it. Assuming you drink to have a good time drinking more so you’re in danger or passing out and being sick isn’t going to increase your enjoyment.

This latest research1 into changing alcohol behaviour only focuses on a young age group (18-30 years) and there is no way of knowing if older drinkers would agree with these views. Another drawback in this latest study is that it describes only the individual’s intentions and there is no way to know that if such a hangover cure existed that these behaviours would be observed.

Despite these limitations, these new findings confirm the established role of alcohol in society, even unpleasant symptoms are not enough to stop alcohol consumption. This is highlighted by many survey participants claiming, “The risk of having a hangover does not influence my drinking behaviour.1” The findings also demonstrate the abundant market for a hangover cure, this is an opportunity that Alcarelle wishes to exploit by the creation of an alternative adult beverage which may have several effects similar to that of alcohol but may not induce hangover like symptoms.


1. An effective hangover treatment: Friend or foe? Marlou Mackus, Marith van Schrojenstein Lantman, Aurora JAE van de Loo, David Nutt, Joris C Verster (2017) Drug Science, Policy and Law

2. Rohsenow DJ, Howland J, Winter M, et al.(2012) Hangover sensitivity after controlled alcohol administration as predictor of post-college drinking. Journal of Abnormal Psychology 121(1): 270–275.

3. Hogewoning A, Van de Loo AJAE, Mackus M, et al.(2016) Characteristics of social drinkers with and without a hangover after heavy alcohol consumption. Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation 7: 161–167.

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