Exacerbation of Hangover Symptomology Significantly Corresponds with Heavy and Chronic Alcohol Drinking: A Pilot Study

J Clin Med. 2019 Nov 12;8(11):1943. doi: 10.3390/jcm8111943.


Alcohol hangover is a combination of mental, sympathetic, and physical symptoms experienced the day after a single period of heavy drinking, starting when blood alcohol concentration approaches zero. How individual measures/domains of hangover symptomology might differ with moderate to heavy alcohol consumption and how these symptoms correlate with the drinking markers is unclear. We investigated the amount/patterns of drinking and hangover symptomology by the categories of alcohol drinking. We studied males and females in three groups: 12 heavy drinkers (HD; >15 drinks/week, 34-63 years old (y.o.)); 17 moderate drinkers (MD; 5-14 drinks/week, 21-30 y.o.); and 12 healthy controls (social/light drinkers, SD; <5 drinks/week, 25-54 y.o.). Demographics, drinking measures (Timeline followback past 90 days (TLFB90), Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT)), and alcohol hangover scale (AHS) were analyzed. Average drinks/day was 5.1-times greater in HD compared to MD. Average AHS score showed moderate incapacity, and individual measures and domains of the AHS were significantly elevated in HD compared to MD. Symptoms of three domains of the AHS (mental, gastrointestinal, and sympathetic) showed domain-specific significant increase in HD. A domain-specific relation was present between AUDIT and specific measures of AHS scores in HD, specifically with the dependence symptoms. Exacerbation in hangover symptomology could be a marker of more severe alcohol use disorder.

Keywords: alcohol hangover scale (AHS); alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT); dependence symptoms of AUDIT (DS-AUDIT); hangover; heavy drinking.