UK Researchers Say It’s Pre-Bar Warm Up Drinking That Gets Us in Trouble

People who drink more alcohol get drunker. And the drunker people get – the more problems they tend to experience.

That’s what Liverpool University researchers found anyway, after studying a group of young people in Northwest England, and evaluating what factors seemed to influence problematic behaviors.
 
Groundbreaking social science research…
 
OK, actually, although their root conclusions are pretty banal, the study was important in that it helped to reveal the influence on binge drinking of an often overlooked phenomenon – the warm up.
 

Warming Up

Warming up (the act of drinking at someone’s home prior to hitting the clubs – often to save money) tends to get people into trouble.

The researchers found that people who warmed up prior to a night on the town were 250% more likely to have been in a drunken fight in the last year and 400% more likely to consume more than 20 units of alcohol on a regular evening out.
 
Warmer uppers were also more likely to experience sexual assault, pass out and lose the ability to walk through extreme drunkenness.
 
Research now shows that drinking before going out drinking is not necessarily a good idea! The researchers say that when governments look at curbing alcohol related problems, they may want to target "pre-drinking" behavior, as an effective way to reduce the societal harms of binge drinking.
 
And if YOU are going out this weekend, and aren’t looking to get into a fight or get "legless" – skip the warm-up and (feels very odd to be writing this) head straight to the bar.
 
Read the study in the January 2008 edition of the journal Addiction

 

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People who drink more alcohol get drunker. And the drunker people get – the more problems they tend to experience.

That’s what Liverpool University researchers found anyway, after studying a group of young people in Northwest England, and evaluating what factors seemed to influence problematic behaviors.
 
Groundbreaking social science research…
 
OK, actually, although their root conclusions are pretty banal, the study was important in that it helped to reveal the influence on binge drinking of an often overlooked phenomenon – the warm up.
 

Warming Up

Warming up (the act of drinking at someone’s home prior to hitting the clubs – often to save money) tends to get people into trouble.

The researchers found that people who warmed up prior to a night on the town were 250% more likely to have been in a drunken fight in the last year and 400% more likely to consume more than 20 units of alcohol on a regular evening out.
 
Warmer uppers were also more likely to experience sexual assault, pass out and lose the ability to walk through extreme drunkenness.
 
Research now shows that drinking before going out drinking is not necessarily a good idea! The researchers say that when governments look at curbing alcohol related problems, they may want to target "pre-drinking" behavior, as an effective way to reduce the societal harms of binge drinking.
 
And if YOU are going out this weekend, and aren’t looking to get into a fight or get "legless" – skip the warm-up and (feels very odd to be writing this) head straight to the bar.
 
Read the study in the January 2008 edition of the journal Addiction

 

What a Super Bowl! How Much Tragedy?

First and foremost, I don’t want to come across here as some sort of puritanical killjoy. Having a couple of beers with friends while watching a great game, for those without alcohol problems, is one of life’s real simple pleasures. Social, good-time drinking, in moderation is OK by me.

The numbers aren’t yet out, but using past Super Sunday’s as a pretty good predictor, we know that yesterday more people died in alcohol related traffic accidents, more wives were assaulted and more people ended up overdosing on alcohol – than on any other day of the year.

Yes, watching the Super Bowl has become America’s booziest event, with all the carnage associated.

And all this tragedy, far removed from any reality presented during outrageously expensive Budweiser ad slots, should maybe give us pause for thought.

Not that we were thinking, too busy between plays watching Anheuser Busch’s estimated 25 million dollars spent on 10 beer-ad slots, with more than twice as many beer ads shown than for any other type of product.

And watching with us, an estimated 33 million kids – the future beer buyers of America, and for all the industry’s talk of self regulation, a market segment they drool over.

Research has shown that kids shown beer ads report thinking about drinking in a more favorable light than kids not shown beer ads. Research also shows that more binge drinkers drink beer, by far, than any other type of alcohol.

Super Bowl parties embody excess, with over indulgence the norm; and when the clock ticks down and a new champ gets crowned, good-times transform (for too many of us) into something much much sadder.

Drinking is OK; binge drinking is not, problem drinking is not, driving drunk is not, beating your wife while drunk is not…

Twenty-five million dollars was not spent to entertain us – it was spent to have us drink more. It influences our children to drink earlier, and more, and it makes it awfully tough for those in recovery to stay true to their dreams of a better life.

Watching a bear drink beer amuses, watching an angry drunk drink beer doesn’t – and unfortunately, we know which of those scenarios happens every day.

The beer industry is quite happy to self-regulate itself – do they deserve such trust? Can they really want us all to drink as responsibly as they claim when that could only mean a great loss of profits? I mean, 30 million problem drinkers can drink a lot of Bud, and they’re certainly "don’t know when to say when".

Are beer ads what we really want?

First and foremost, I don’t want to come across here as some sort of puritanical killjoy. Having a couple of beers with friends while watching a great game, for those without alcohol problems, is one of life’s real simple pleasures. Social, good-time drinking, in moderation is OK by me.

The numbers aren’t yet out, but using past Super Sunday’s as a pretty good predictor, we know that yesterday more people died in alcohol related traffic accidents, more wives were assaulted and more people ended up overdosing on alcohol – than on any other day of the year.

Yes, watching the Super Bowl has become America’s booziest event, with all the carnage associated.

And all this tragedy, far removed from any reality presented during outrageously expensive Budweiser ad slots, should maybe give us pause for thought.

Not that we were thinking, too busy between plays watching Anheuser Busch’s estimated 25 million dollars spent on 10 beer-ad slots, with more than twice as many beer ads shown than for any other type of product.

And watching with us, an estimated 33 million kids – the future beer buyers of America, and for all the industry’s talk of self regulation, a market segment they drool over.

Research has shown that kids shown beer ads report thinking about drinking in a more favorable light than kids not shown beer ads. Research also shows that more binge drinkers drink beer, by far, than any other type of alcohol.

Super Bowl parties embody excess, with over indulgence the norm; and when the clock ticks down and a new champ gets crowned, good-times transform (for too many of us) into something much much sadder.

Drinking is OK; binge drinking is not, problem drinking is not, driving drunk is not, beating your wife while drunk is not…

Twenty-five million dollars was not spent to entertain us – it was spent to have us drink more. It influences our children to drink earlier, and more, and it makes it awfully tough for those in recovery to stay true to their dreams of a better life.

Watching a bear drink beer amuses, watching an angry drunk drink beer doesn’t – and unfortunately, we know which of those scenarios happens every day.

The beer industry is quite happy to self-regulate itself – do they deserve such trust? Can they really want us all to drink as responsibly as they claim when that could only mean a great loss of profits? I mean, 30 million problem drinkers can drink a lot of Bud, and they’re certainly "don’t know when to say when".

Are beer ads what we really want?

Forget vodka, whiskey or rum…beer is the most dangerous drink in America today.

About two thirds of all binge drinks consumed are beer, and the people most at risk to drive drunk, get hurt or get violent have more than likely gotten drunk on beer. Beer enjoys a strong and favorable misperception of its inherent dangers, and also enjoys very favorable legislation governing its taxation, marketing practices and lack of sales restrictions. Governmental policies that favor the sale of beer over other types of alcohol do not make any sense from a public health viewpoint.

The Most Dangerous Alcohol?

A lot of people don’t consider that drinking beer is as serious or as harmful as drinking hard liquor, and this perception in reinforced by governmental legislation that allows for more intensive marketing of beer, for favorable taxation and for less regulation over its sale.

Of course beer is simply alcohol just like any other form of alcohol, and if you drink 7 beers, or have 7 cocktails…you will be just as drunk; and if you drink a number of beers with regularity, you are just as at risk for addiction as you would be if you drank only bourbon or vodka.

In fact, studies of binge drinking in America show that beer is the favored binge drink of choice, and because binge drinking creates such societal problems (drunk driving, violence, domestic abuse) and because binge drinking is a necessary stepping stone to dependency, it seems that beer is in fact the most dangerous alcoholic beverage consumed in America today.

The breakdown of binge drinking has beer accounting for 67% of all binge drinks consumed, with liquor a very distant second at 22%. The survey study, conducted by the National center for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates how dichotomous liquor/beer laws are confusing the drinking public about the relative safety of beer drinking, and researchers conclude that preferential laws favoring beer make absolutely no sense from a public health viewpoint.

Researchers call for tougher beer control laws and increased taxation. They call for a limit on points of sale, and a reduction in marketing…particularly marketing directed at younger people.

I was a beer drunk, and I know first hand that the damage done by a case of beer sure seems a lot like the damage down by a bottle of whiskey; and it’s too bad that a lingering misperception of the dangers of beer remains a part of out National consciousness.

  • Beer is alcohol, and it needs to be regulated in a similar manner to all other forms of alcohol. Why can we buy beer at a convenience store but not whiskey, when studies show that the people most likely to drink to excess, drive drunk, and have problems with the law or most probably going to have been drinking beer?
  • Why can Budweiser sponsor a Super Bowl halftime show, when a great many football fans watching the game are very likely drinking beer, and when Super Bowl game day is one of the riskiest days of the year for alcohol fueled domestic assault?

Prohibition is never the answer, and I don’t think that we can or even should deny responsible adults the right to purchase and consume beer or any other alcohol in a moderate and reasonable manner. But giving preferential legislative treatment to beer simply because it enjoys a misperception of safety (huge lobbying dollars???) is damaging and nonsensical.

About two thirds of all binge drinks consumed are beer, and the people most at risk to drive drunk, get hurt or get violent have more than likely gotten drunk on beer. Beer enjoys a strong and favorable misperception of its inherent dangers, and also enjoys very favorable legislation governing its taxation, marketing practices and lack of sales restrictions. Governmental policies that favor the sale of beer over other types of alcohol do not make any sense from a public health viewpoint.

The Most Dangerous Alcohol?

A lot of people don’t consider that drinking beer is as serious or as harmful as drinking hard liquor, and this perception in reinforced by governmental legislation that allows for more intensive marketing of beer, for favorable taxation and for less regulation over its sale.

Of course beer is simply alcohol just like any other form of alcohol, and if you drink 7 beers, or have 7 cocktails…you will be just as drunk; and if you drink a number of beers with regularity, you are just as at risk for addiction as you would be if you drank only bourbon or vodka.

In fact, studies of binge drinking in America show that beer is the favored binge drink of choice, and because binge drinking creates such societal problems (drunk driving, violence, domestic abuse) and because binge drinking is a necessary stepping stone to dependency, it seems that beer is in fact the most dangerous alcoholic beverage consumed in America today.

The breakdown of binge drinking has beer accounting for 67% of all binge drinks consumed, with liquor a very distant second at 22%. The survey study, conducted by the National center for Disease Control and Prevention, illustrates how dichotomous liquor/beer laws are confusing the drinking public about the relative safety of beer drinking, and researchers conclude that preferential laws favoring beer make absolutely no sense from a public health viewpoint.

Researchers call for tougher beer control laws and increased taxation. They call for a limit on points of sale, and a reduction in marketing…particularly marketing directed at younger people.

I was a beer drunk, and I know first hand that the damage done by a case of beer sure seems a lot like the damage down by a bottle of whiskey; and it’s too bad that a lingering misperception of the dangers of beer remains a part of out National consciousness.

  • Beer is alcohol, and it needs to be regulated in a similar manner to all other forms of alcohol. Why can we buy beer at a convenience store but not whiskey, when studies show that the people most likely to drink to excess, drive drunk, and have problems with the law or most probably going to have been drinking beer?
  • Why can Budweiser sponsor a Super Bowl halftime show, when a great many football fans watching the game are very likely drinking beer, and when Super Bowl game day is one of the riskiest days of the year for alcohol fueled domestic assault?

Prohibition is never the answer, and I don’t think that we can or even should deny responsible adults the right to purchase and consume beer or any other alcohol in a moderate and reasonable manner. But giving preferential legislative treatment to beer simply because it enjoys a misperception of safety (huge lobbying dollars???) is damaging and nonsensical.

Heavy drinking and man boobs…what teens really need to learn about in alcohol prevention classes!

When I quit drinking, within a year I lost 70 pounds. No exercise, no diet…just no beer, and within months my clothes hung loosely on my shrinking frame; and I stopped sweating so profusely on relatively cool days!

I felt better, I looked better, and I was all of a sudden far healthier. Weight gain is one of the very obvious and externally visible symptoms of alcohol abuse, and the internal and mental damage, although unseen, is far worse; but it’s hard to describe how great it felt to be enjoying sobriety, and also looking so much better just by cutting out 12-15 beers a night on the couch.

There are two kinds of drinkers, fat ones and skinny ones…and it’s actually bad to be either. The fat ones get fat through the enormous intake of calories within the daily consumption of alcohol needed. The skinny ones are arguably worse off, as they are drinking just as much but since they don’t gain weight, their gastro intestinal tracts are either damaged to the point that they no longer effectively process consumed food, or they just don’t eat much beyond liquid meals, and are at a fantastic risks for vitamin and nutritional deficits.

The calories in different alcoholic drinks are:

Beer 1 regular bottle = 150 calories

Liquor 1 ounce, not including mixer = 65

Liqueurs 1 ounce = 188

Red wine 1 glass =80 calories

Dry white wine = 1 ounce 75 calories

1 martini = 140 calories

1 margarita = 168 calories

1 cooler = 150 calories

Even people who drink nothing close to the amount I did will still gain weight from regular drinking. Teenage girls who drink a 6 pack of coolers 3 times a week would gain 3 pounds of fat a month unless they either compensate by eating less (nutritional deficits) or spent an awful lot of time on the treadmill (1 six pack = 1.5 hours of hard running).

A 3 pound gain a month becomes a 36 pound gain over a year, and starts to become a very noticeable, unattractive and unhealthy sign of drinking too much.

Perhaps as a part of teenage prevention plans we need to show people what heavy drinking starts to look like after a year or two, and see how many teens always concerned about their appearances still want to binge drink on a regular basis.

Obesity is a major health risk, and heavy drinking is one of the quickest ways to an unhealthy weight. Obesity may also be something that teens can understand and relate to as a real and imminent danger of heavy drinking, whereas the dangers of addiction and long term health problems don’t seem to truly register with teens living in the here and now, with middle age seeming a thousand years away.

When I quit drinking, within a year I lost 70 pounds. No exercise, no diet…just no beer, and within months my clothes hung loosely on my shrinking frame; and I stopped sweating so profusely on relatively cool days!

I felt better, I looked better, and I was all of a sudden far healthier. Weight gain is one of the very obvious and externally visible symptoms of alcohol abuse, and the internal and mental damage, although unseen, is far worse; but it’s hard to describe how great it felt to be enjoying sobriety, and also looking so much better just by cutting out 12-15 beers a night on the couch.

There are two kinds of drinkers, fat ones and skinny ones…and it’s actually bad to be either. The fat ones get fat through the enormous intake of calories within the daily consumption of alcohol needed. The skinny ones are arguably worse off, as they are drinking just as much but since they don’t gain weight, their gastro intestinal tracts are either damaged to the point that they no longer effectively process consumed food, or they just don’t eat much beyond liquid meals, and are at a fantastic risks for vitamin and nutritional deficits.

The calories in different alcoholic drinks are:

Beer 1 regular bottle = 150 calories

Liquor 1 ounce, not including mixer = 65

Liqueurs 1 ounce = 188

Red wine 1 glass =80 calories

Dry white wine = 1 ounce 75 calories

1 martini = 140 calories

1 margarita = 168 calories

1 cooler = 150 calories

Even people who drink nothing close to the amount I did will still gain weight from regular drinking. Teenage girls who drink a 6 pack of coolers 3 times a week would gain 3 pounds of fat a month unless they either compensate by eating less (nutritional deficits) or spent an awful lot of time on the treadmill (1 six pack = 1.5 hours of hard running).

A 3 pound gain a month becomes a 36 pound gain over a year, and starts to become a very noticeable, unattractive and unhealthy sign of drinking too much.

Perhaps as a part of teenage prevention plans we need to show people what heavy drinking starts to look like after a year or two, and see how many teens always concerned about their appearances still want to binge drink on a regular basis.

Obesity is a major health risk, and heavy drinking is one of the quickest ways to an unhealthy weight. Obesity may also be something that teens can understand and relate to as a real and imminent danger of heavy drinking, whereas the dangers of addiction and long term health problems don’t seem to truly register with teens living in the here and now, with middle age seeming a thousand years away.

Red Bull cocktails…you don’t feel drunk but you are!

Energy cocktail drinkers don’t feel drunk, but they are, and they may very well be the people piloting the car home after a night of drinking.

Two recent studies, one Canadian, and one Brazilian, when taken together paint a slightly ominous picture of current club culture, and its implications for impaired driving.

Brazil

The first study, out of the Federal University of Sao Paulo, investigated the effects both perceived and actual of mixing alcohol with energy drinks (such as red bull)…which are popular cocktails throughout the world’s bars and clubs. The stimulant nature of the energy drinks seem to reduce perceptions of some of the alcohol’s depressive effects, and people consuming red bull cocktails reported feeling less tired, less un coordinated, and stronger than those people who had consumed normal alcoholic cocktails. Popular for inducing an ability to dance all night, these cocktails seem to mask some of the perceived symptoms of intoxication, and people drinking energy drink cocktails underreport their level of intoxication as compared to people drinking conventional alcoholic drinks.

But when university researchers compared the reflexive and physio motor reactions of both the energy drink consuming and regular cocktail consuming groups, they found that although the energy drink group reported feeling less intoxicated, they performed equally poorly on measures of coordination and reactions times.

Canada

The second study, out of the University of Alberta, examined designated driver practices and compliance amongst young bar going people in the province. The study found that although many people do use designated drivers responsibly (rotating between members of a group) a significant percentage of bar goers do not; and fail to plan for the drive home before entering the bar to drink. The strategy employed by almost 1 in 5 is to simply select the seemingly least impaired person to perform the driving duties, whether actually impaired or not.

When you combine the results of the two studies, you seem to have a group of people drinking alcoholic energy drink cocktails, who do not realize how drunk they truly are, and these same people too often simply selecting a designated driver who appears most competent at the moment…a recipe for disaster to be sure.

But what’s to be done?

I don’t think that anything but enforcement carried much impact over drinking and driving behaviors, and to that effect law enforcement need to continue policing the late night roads, on the lookout for people who may be a lot drunker than they think they are. If you drink red bull or other energy drink cocktails, be aware that the stimulant effects of the energy drinks mask some of the depressive effects of the alcohol…but they do not lessen the physical effects of consumed alcohol, and you may be in worse shape than you think you are. Use a designated driver, call a cab, walk…don’t take foolish chances that can end a night of fun in tragedy.

Energy cocktail drinkers don’t feel drunk, but they are, and they may very well be the people piloting the car home after a night of drinking.

Two recent studies, one Canadian, and one Brazilian, when taken together paint a slightly ominous picture of current club culture, and its implications for impaired driving.

Brazil

The first study, out of the Federal University of Sao Paulo, investigated the effects both perceived and actual of mixing alcohol with energy drinks (such as red bull)…which are popular cocktails throughout the world’s bars and clubs. The stimulant nature of the energy drinks seem to reduce perceptions of some of the alcohol’s depressive effects, and people consuming red bull cocktails reported feeling less tired, less un coordinated, and stronger than those people who had consumed normal alcoholic cocktails. Popular for inducing an ability to dance all night, these cocktails seem to mask some of the perceived symptoms of intoxication, and people drinking energy drink cocktails underreport their level of intoxication as compared to people drinking conventional alcoholic drinks.

But when university researchers compared the reflexive and physio motor reactions of both the energy drink consuming and regular cocktail consuming groups, they found that although the energy drink group reported feeling less intoxicated, they performed equally poorly on measures of coordination and reactions times.

Canada

The second study, out of the University of Alberta, examined designated driver practices and compliance amongst young bar going people in the province. The study found that although many people do use designated drivers responsibly (rotating between members of a group) a significant percentage of bar goers do not; and fail to plan for the drive home before entering the bar to drink. The strategy employed by almost 1 in 5 is to simply select the seemingly least impaired person to perform the driving duties, whether actually impaired or not.

When you combine the results of the two studies, you seem to have a group of people drinking alcoholic energy drink cocktails, who do not realize how drunk they truly are, and these same people too often simply selecting a designated driver who appears most competent at the moment…a recipe for disaster to be sure.

But what’s to be done?

I don’t think that anything but enforcement carried much impact over drinking and driving behaviors, and to that effect law enforcement need to continue policing the late night roads, on the lookout for people who may be a lot drunker than they think they are. If you drink red bull or other energy drink cocktails, be aware that the stimulant effects of the energy drinks mask some of the depressive effects of the alcohol…but they do not lessen the physical effects of consumed alcohol, and you may be in worse shape than you think you are. Use a designated driver, call a cab, walk…don’t take foolish chances that can end a night of fun in tragedy.

One in Five men between the ages of 21-30 will buy alcohol for an underage stranger outside of a liquor store

I almost hesitate to write this, as it’s almost a how to manual for kids looking to buy alcohol, but as follows is very telling of our society and explains in part how easy it is for our kids to buy alcohol.

A University of Minnesota study looked at underage alcohol buying, and wanted to know just how easy it was for underage drinkers to secure alcohol by propositioning buyers about to enter a liquor store. The University researchers had under age looking subjects approach people about to enter a liquor store, and these subjects explained that they had forgotten their I.D. and asked the shopper to buy them a 6 pack of beer.

Researchers found that only 8% of the population when approached in this way would buy the beer for the subject, but when examining specific sub groups, it was found that males who appeared to be between the ages of 21 and 30, when approached had a 19% likelihood of buying the beer.

When almost one in five young men are willing to buy alcohol for underage strangers, it’s not surprising that our children seem to have little difficulty getting the alcohol they want.

So what’s to be done?

In addition to educating the public about the greater risks to teenagers who start drinking earlier, I think that we need to tackle this problem as an enforcement issue. It is currently against the law to buy alcohol for minors, but if one in five are willing to do it for a complete stranger outside of a liquor store, obviously the threat of penalty is no deterrent to the behavior.

If police actively enforced this illegal activity, and published both the consequences of this crime as well as publicized successful "sting" operations on adults willing to do it, I believe that our kids would be a lot safer from easy access to alcohol. It’s not the ultimate solution, but by making access more difficult, you might just save a few lives from dependency, and you’ll probably save a lot of young lives from the ultimate consequences of drunken driving.

If you’re approached…don’t buy it for them, you’re not doing them a favor by buying them beer, you’re doing them a favor by not. To law enforcement…please take this seriously, and please punish offenders and make the consequences well known. It may be perceived as a relatively innocuous crime, but in reality it’s anything but harmless.

I almost hesitate to write this, as it’s almost a how to manual for kids looking to buy alcohol, but as follows is very telling of our society and explains in part how easy it is for our kids to buy alcohol.

A University of Minnesota study looked at underage alcohol buying, and wanted to know just how easy it was for underage drinkers to secure alcohol by propositioning buyers about to enter a liquor store. The University researchers had under age looking subjects approach people about to enter a liquor store, and these subjects explained that they had forgotten their I.D. and asked the shopper to buy them a 6 pack of beer.

Researchers found that only 8% of the population when approached in this way would buy the beer for the subject, but when examining specific sub groups, it was found that males who appeared to be between the ages of 21 and 30, when approached had a 19% likelihood of buying the beer.

When almost one in five young men are willing to buy alcohol for underage strangers, it’s not surprising that our children seem to have little difficulty getting the alcohol they want.

So what’s to be done?

In addition to educating the public about the greater risks to teenagers who start drinking earlier, I think that we need to tackle this problem as an enforcement issue. It is currently against the law to buy alcohol for minors, but if one in five are willing to do it for a complete stranger outside of a liquor store, obviously the threat of penalty is no deterrent to the behavior.

If police actively enforced this illegal activity, and published both the consequences of this crime as well as publicized successful "sting" operations on adults willing to do it, I believe that our kids would be a lot safer from easy access to alcohol. It’s not the ultimate solution, but by making access more difficult, you might just save a few lives from dependency, and you’ll probably save a lot of young lives from the ultimate consequences of drunken driving.

If you’re approached…don’t buy it for them, you’re not doing them a favor by buying them beer, you’re doing them a favor by not. To law enforcement…please take this seriously, and please punish offenders and make the consequences well known. It may be perceived as a relatively innocuous crime, but in reality it’s anything but harmless.

Why alcohol makes us mean. Angry drunks explained.

Photo: Jan TikThere’s something in alcohol that makes all of us act just a little more belligerently and aggressively than we otherwise would, and for some people alcohol can even provoke physical violence.

But why, and why does a drug we take to feel good eventually so often end up creating feelings of anger and even behaviors of aggression?

To answer these questions University of Kentucky psychologist Peter Giancola took a look at drinking in a modeled experiment of aggression. Working from a theory that explains alcohol influenced violence occurring because when drunk, the parts of our brain that operate our working memory are significantly impaired; and we as a result are less able to focus on multiple environmental stimuli simultaneously.

What happens, so the theory postulates, is that we tend to focus only on provocative stimuli, while being unable to concurrently process other environmental stimuli that might calm or mitigate these perceived provocations.

A man may be at a bar and see someone "hitting on his girlfriend" and when drunk enough, may not recognize the other environmental factors that would clearly indicate that the man was actually, for example, an old friend, and he acts without an accurate perception of the reality in an aggressive manner.

Drinking and Electro Shocks

To clinically test this alcohol induced theory of aggression, Giancola performed experiments that combined electroshocks and Vodka! He gave some trial participants a number of alcoholic drinks, and others none, and he had the study volunteers face off against one another in a frustrating game task, where the loser received an electro shock of varying intensity from the winner.

As expected, the "drunk" participants consistently gave more intense electro shocks to their opponents than those who had not been drinking. To change the variables slightly, Giancola had the drunken participants also think about a complex mental task while playing the game and delivering the shocks, and found that while concentrating on something other than the game exclusively, the shocks delivered by the drunken participants were significantly less intense.

Giancola explains that by having the drunk game players concentrating on something other than the game and their opponents perceived aggression and provocation, they were more distracted and did not perceive as high a need for an aggressive response; but when focusing solely on the game, the drunken participants focused solely on the aggression of their opponent, and responded with high levels of electro shocks.

Giancola further explains that the drunks that had to concentrate on more than just the game were more similar to a sober person, who has the capacity to absorb multiple environmental variables simultaneously, and does not focus only on perceived aggression and provocation. It’s a very interesting theory, and it seems that research backs it up. Our working memory allows us to absorb and process environmental cues effectively, and by being able to simultaneously process a number of environmental variables, the perceived requirement for an aggressive response to a situation is reduced.

Photo: Jan TikThere’s something in alcohol that makes all of us act just a little more belligerently and aggressively than we otherwise would, and for some people alcohol can even provoke physical violence.

But why, and why does a drug we take to feel good eventually so often end up creating feelings of anger and even behaviors of aggression?

To answer these questions University of Kentucky psychologist Peter Giancola took a look at drinking in a modeled experiment of aggression. Working from a theory that explains alcohol influenced violence occurring because when drunk, the parts of our brain that operate our working memory are significantly impaired; and we as a result are less able to focus on multiple environmental stimuli simultaneously.

What happens, so the theory postulates, is that we tend to focus only on provocative stimuli, while being unable to concurrently process other environmental stimuli that might calm or mitigate these perceived provocations.

A man may be at a bar and see someone "hitting on his girlfriend" and when drunk enough, may not recognize the other environmental factors that would clearly indicate that the man was actually, for example, an old friend, and he acts without an accurate perception of the reality in an aggressive manner.

Drinking and Electro Shocks

To clinically test this alcohol induced theory of aggression, Giancola performed experiments that combined electroshocks and Vodka! He gave some trial participants a number of alcoholic drinks, and others none, and he had the study volunteers face off against one another in a frustrating game task, where the loser received an electro shock of varying intensity from the winner.

As expected, the "drunk" participants consistently gave more intense electro shocks to their opponents than those who had not been drinking. To change the variables slightly, Giancola had the drunken participants also think about a complex mental task while playing the game and delivering the shocks, and found that while concentrating on something other than the game exclusively, the shocks delivered by the drunken participants were significantly less intense.

Giancola explains that by having the drunk game players concentrating on something other than the game and their opponents perceived aggression and provocation, they were more distracted and did not perceive as high a need for an aggressive response; but when focusing solely on the game, the drunken participants focused solely on the aggression of their opponent, and responded with high levels of electro shocks.

Giancola further explains that the drunks that had to concentrate on more than just the game were more similar to a sober person, who has the capacity to absorb multiple environmental variables simultaneously, and does not focus only on perceived aggression and provocation. It’s a very interesting theory, and it seems that research backs it up. Our working memory allows us to absorb and process environmental cues effectively, and by being able to simultaneously process a number of environmental variables, the perceived requirement for an aggressive response to a situation is reduced.