How You Remember This Weekend's Hangover Depends On Genetics

Mar 31, 2017 at 3:00 p.m. ET
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Studies have shown many times over that people with a family history of alcoholism may be predisposed to be at a greater risk of developing drinking problems. But what if genetics also impacts how you remember hangovers? At Keele University, psychologist Dr. Richard Stephens looked into exactly that.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has reported that people with a family history are “four times more likely to develop a drinking problem.” Stephens based his research on that statistic, but focusing more on whether hangovers have some sort of impact on this.

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Stephens and his team conducted two studies to test this theory. His first study included 142 people, with a small portion of them having a family history of problem drinking, where he had them complete a survey about their hangovers in the past year. This study found that those with alcoholism in their family background recalled more frequent hangover symptoms than those who didn’t have any family history of problem drinking.

His second study was designed in the same way, except the participants were asked about hangover symptoms the morning directly after a night of drinking. The results showed that there were no greater signs of hangover symptoms in the participants with a family history of alcoholism than in those who did not.

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While the findings may seem cloudy, Stephens is relatively positive toward his research. To him, it seemed that “people who [were] predisposed to develop problem drinking are no more susceptible to developing a hangover… however, we found that such people appear to remember their hangovers more lucidly.”

So, while the amount of hangovers experienced did not change, the results showed that individuals who have a family history of problem drinking or alcoholism are more clearly able to remember their hangovers or what those hangovers felt like than those who do not have that kind of background. Stephens hopes that this information can be used to help curb excessive drinking and facilitate the means to create programs or plans for managing alcohol consumption.

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