Research & Resources

Physical Consequences of Intense Daily Drinking

Researchers examined associations of drinking intensity on a given drinking day with acute physical consequences in a sample of U.S. young adult drinkers. Participants were past 30-day drinkers at modal age 18 in the 2018 12th-grade Monitoring the Future study who were followed up as part of a daily study in 2019. Of these participants, 489 reported at least one drinking day. At age 19, they reported their alcohol use and consequences for 14 consecutive days. Daily data were used to examine within- and between-person associations of drinking intensity (moderate: 1–3 drinks for women, 1–4 drinks for men; binge: 4–7 drinks for women, 5–9 drinks for men; or high-intensity: 8+ drinks for women, 10+ drinks for men) with four acute physical consequences: hangover, nausea, blackout, and passing out. At least one acute physical consequence was reported on more than half (59.3 percent) of high intensity drinking days, compared to 40.7 percent of binge and 4.9 percent of moderate drinking days. Blackouts and passing out were reported on 17.1 percent and 9.2 percent of high intensity drinking days, respectively. Compared to binge drinking days, high intensity drinking days were associated with a greater likelihood of any acute physical consequences, a greater number of consequences, and a greater likelihood of hangover. Acute physical consequences were more likely on high-intensity and binge drinking days than on moderate drinking days.

This paper, “Daily-level analysis of drinking intensity and acute physical consequences,” was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and published in the journal Addictive Behaviors.

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