Smokers more likely to report hangover symptoms after heavy drinking

Published on December 5, 2012 at 1:26 AM · No Comments

People who like to smoke when they drink may be at greater risk of suffering a hangover the next morning, according to a study in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

For anyone who has ever had too much to drink, that day-after combination of headache, nausea and fatigue may be a familiar feeling. But some drinkers appear hangover-resistant: about one-quarter of people who drink enough to spur a hangover in most of us don't actually develop one.

No one is sure why that is. But the new study suggests that smoking could be one factor that boosts the hangover odds.

Researchers found that college students were more likely to report hangover symptoms after a heavy drinking episode if they smoked more heavily on the day they drank. And it wasn't simply because they smoked more when they drank more.

"At the same number of drinks, people who smoke more that day are more likely to have a hangover and have more intense hangovers," said researcher Damaris J. Rohsenow, Ph.D., of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.

Her team controlled for some other factors as well, such as whether students reported drug use in the past year. And smoking, itself, was linked to an increased risk of hangover compared with not smoking at all.

That raises the likelihood that there is some direct effect of tobacco smoking on hangovers, Rohsenow said.

The "how" isn't fully clear. But other research has shown that nicotine receptors in the brain are involved in our subjective response to drinking, Rohsenow said. For example, smoking and drinking at the same time boosts the release of dopamine, a "feel-good" brain chemical.

So the fact that nicotine and alcohol are connected in the brain may explain why smoking is tied to hangover.

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