Effects of binge drinking may last longer than thought

The findings have important implications when it comes to activities performed when hungover, including driving.

The effects of a heavy binge drinking session may last longer we think, affecting a person's thoughts and performance even after the alcohol has left the bloodstream, a study has found.

The research, published in the journal Addiction, highlight that impairments in cognition seen when individuals are drunk are still present the day after when there little to no alcohol left in the bloodstream.

Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK showed how hungover individuals have poorer attention, memory and psychomotor skills such as coordination and speed when compared to when sober.

The findings have important implications when it comes to activities performed when hungover, including driving.

For example, while hungover, individuals might typically wait until they believe there is no alcohol in the system before driving.

These new results suggest that we could still be impaired in terms of the cognitive processes required, even after alcohol has left the bloodstream.

In addition, the researchers warn that although many workplaces have clear policies in place regarding alcohol intoxication at work, few cover the next day effects of alcohol.

For certain jobs, they suggest, employees should be aware of the real effects that hangovers can have, and employers might do well to consider revising guidelines on safety grounds.

Hangover is the most commonly-reported negative consequence of alcohol use. Little has been done to examine the effects of being hungover 'on the job'.

"In our review of 19 studies we found that hangover impaired psychomotor speed, short and long term memory and sustained attention," said Craig Gunn, from University of Bath.

"Impaired performance in these abilities reflects poorer concentration and focus, decreased memory and reduced reaction times the day after an evening of heavy drinking," said Gunn.

"Our review also indicated limited and inconsistent research on alcohol hangover and the need for future studies in the field," he said.

"Our findings demonstrate that hangover can have serious consequences for the performance of everyday activities such as driving and workplace skills such as concentration and memory," said Sally Adams added, from University of Bath.

"These findings also highlight that there is a need for further research in this field where alcohol hangover has implications at the individual level in terms of health and wellbeing, but also more widely at the national level for safety and the economy," she said.

The researchers are now developing this work to further examine the true health and economic costs of the hangover and associated risks with the next day effects of heavy drinking.

The meta-analysis involved in this study involved a review of 770 articles relating to the topic.

  • Alcohol Consumption