I used to have a mate who lost her mind every time she spent the evening drinking gin.
She’d be fine for the first hour and then she’d do a lot of crying, screaming, various other borderline illegal things.
That kind of thing never happened on wine, only gin.
But does alcohol type really have such a profound effect on our behaviour? Or is it just kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy whereby we tend to drink red wine in relaxing settings and gin when we’re preparing to get bladdered?
Well, it looks like there really is a connection between how we feel and what we drink.
A study of 30,000 18 to 34-year-olds from 21 countries has found that we do indeed have different emotional responses to different alcohol types.
And that might be important in how, as a society, we address problem drinking.
The study looked at responses to the world’s largest online survey of legal and illicit drug and alcohol use amount adults, called the Global Drug Survey. Included in it were questions on alcohol consumption and feeling associated with beer, spirits and wine when drunk at home and in public.
How do different alcohols affect our mood?
- 30% of spirit drinkers associate drinking things like gin, vodka and rum with feelings of aggression
- 55% said red wine made them feel more relaxed, closely followed by beer (50%)
- Men were significantly more likely to associate feelings of aggression with all types of alcohol
- Women were significantly more likely to associate feelings of confidence, energy and sexiness when drinking in public
Researchers claim the findings suggest that problem drinkers might rely on alcohol to generate the positive emotions associated with drinking.
In fact, they are five times more likely to feel energised after drinking than those who drink less.
‘Understanding emotions associated with alcohol consumption is imperative to addressing alcohol misuse, providing insight into what emotions influence drink choice between different groups in the population,’ the study says.
Around 3.3 million deaths are currently caused by alcohol, with one in 20 cases of ill health and injury being caused by it too.
‘For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence. This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks,’ says study co-author Professor Mark Bellis.
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‘In the UK, a litre of off-licence spirits can easily be bought for £15 or less, making a double shot only 75p. Such prices can encourage consumption at levels harmful to the health of the drinker and through violence and injuries also represent a risk to the people around them.’