Life & style

How much you drink may depend on fellow drinkers

People’s decisions on whether or not to drink more may be influenced more by their environment and their observation of others around them, finds a study, with implications on future alcohol harm reduction strategies.

The findings showed that when drunk and surrounded by other drinkers, people’s judgements of their own levels of intoxication and the associated health risks are related to the drunkenness of their peers, not on the objective amount of alcohol they have actually consumed, a study has found.

Researchers have historically worked under the assumption that those who drink most alcohol incorrectly “imagine” everyone else also drinks to excess.

However, “it turns out that irrespective of how much someone has drunk, if they observe others who are more drunk than they are, they feel less at risk from drinking more,” said Simon Moore, Professor from the Cardiff University in Britain.

Further, people were more likely to underestimate their own level of drinking, drunkenness and the associated risks when surrounded by others who were intoxicated but felt more at risk when surrounded by people who were more sober.

“The study has important implication on how we might work to reduce excessive alcohol consumption. We could either work to reduce the number of very drunk people in a drinking environment, or we could increase the number of people who are sober,” Moore said adding, “our theory predicts the latter approach would have greatest impact.”

For the study, the team tested the breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) of 1,862 individuals, selected from different social groups, who were on average 27-years-old.

The results, published in the journal BMC Public Health, showed that on average, people perceived themselves as moderately drunk and moderately at risk, although their BrAC exceeded standard drink driving limits (35 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath).

Men on average had higher BrAC levels than women, the researchers concluded.

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