Different Alcoholic Drinks Tied to Different Moods

Research involving 30,000 people has found drinkers have significantly different emotional responses to different alcoholic drinks

The findings showed that men were significantly more likely to associate feelings of aggression with all types of alcohol, as were those categorised as heavy/dependent drinkers, who were six times more likely to do so than low risk drinkers.

Vodka, gin and rum appeared to be most commonly associated with violence, with 30 per cent of respondents reporting feeling aggressive after drinking spirits. "As people get the kick from escalating alcohol levels, the same increases reduce the brain's ability to suppress impulsive feelings or to consider the consequences of acting on them", he said.

The only emotional response that spirits didn't score highest for was being relaxed; if you're looking to unwind, you're better off with red wine or beer, both of which scored much higher in this area (52% and 49% respectively). "For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka and other spirits has been laced with violence, and it is true that spirits were more strongly associated with being tearful", said Professor Mark Bellis, director of policy, research and worldwide development at Public Health Wales.

"Alcoholic beverages vary in the types of emotions individuals report they elicit, with spirits more frequently eliciting emotional changes of all types". Almost 60 percent of liquor drinkers said the booze makes them feel energized and confident, but they also were more likely to feel aggressive, ill, restless or tearful compared with people drinking red wine or beer. Factors including where alcohol is consumed were considered as important factors.

If a glass of wine puts you to sleep, but harder drinks out with friends pump you up, you're not alone. "Generally, men have a greater involvement in violence than women, and so it is not surprising that drinking alcohol exposes some of this underlying difference in behaviors".

The study led by experts at Bangor University and King's College London found red wine was likely to make people feel sexy and relaxed- but also tired and tearful
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For people drinking white wine, the most common emotion was a feeling of relaxation, with a third of people saying they felt this way. Men more often associated feelings of aggression with alcohol, according to the survey results.

They speculate that people's emotions are also likely to be affected by their mood before drinking, the speed and quantity of alcohol they drank, mixed drinks and activities such as dancing and socialising.

Emphasising the study to be observational - where no firm conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect - the authors wrote: "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".

This study is useful in that it can help health campaigners understand why people choose a type of alcohol in a certain situation. "Oh no", you might say, "I never drink tequila".

Results of the survey were published online November 21 in BMJ Open.

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