Different types of alcohol trigger different emotional responses


Red wine drinkers reported the highest level of feelings of tiredness, according to the data from nearly 30,000 people from 21 different countries. Respondents reported different reactions depending on the type of alcohol consumed.

After examining anonymised responses to the world's largest online survey of legal and illicit drug and alcohol use among adults, researchers found that drinking spirits such as vodka, gin or rum appeared to be more commonly associated with aggression than other drinks, 30% of spirit drinkers reporting feeling aggressive after drinking spirits.

But the authors have found that spirits do have an upside in that they are more likely to elicit feelings of energy and confidence than beer or wine. "This study highlights the importance of understanding why people choose to drink certain alcoholic drinks and what effect they expect these drinks will have on them", UK charity Drinkaware's John Larsen tells HuffPost UK.

RG: What population did you study this in? .

Researchers from Public Health Wales and King's College London questioned almost 30,000 people aged between 18 and 24 to find out how drinking beer, wine and spirits affected them in different settings.

Spirits were the least likely to be associated with feeling relaxed (20 per cent); red wine was the most likely to elicit this feeling (just under 53 per cent) followed by beer (around 50 per cent).

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Women were significantly more likely than men to associate each feeling - except for aggression- with all types of alcohol.

Bellis: Spirits were most strongly associated with feelings of being energised, confident, and sexy.

Their answers showed that they attributed different emotions - energised, relaxed, sexy, confident and exhausted, aggressive, ill, restless, and tearful - to different types of alcohol. Roughly two of five beer drinkers said the suds make them feel confident, while one-quarter of red wine drinkers said they feel sexier after a glass. Beer was also associated with feeling relaxed and confident, although it was also associated with high levels of feeling exhausted.

Bellis: There are many factors that may link different drinks to different emotional outcomes.

He said: "Spirits are often consumed more quickly and have much higher concentrations of alcohol in them". This can result in a quicker stimulating effect as blood alcohol levels increase. Many alcoholics used to say that they are consuming drinks to regulate emotional experiences, reduce negative emotions, and to elevate positive thoughts in the mind. "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 journal points out that: "Respondents' level of alcohol dependency was strongly associated with feeling all emotions, with the likelihood of aggression being significantly higher in possible dependent versus low risk drinkers". Negative feelings such as aggression (30%), restlessness (28%) and tearfulness (22%) give significant cause for concern.