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Open AccessCommunication

Updating the Definition of the Alcohol Hangover

1
Division of Pharmacology, Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), Utrecht University, 3584CG Utrecht, The Netherlands
2
Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), Utrecht University, 3584CM Utrecht, The Netherlands
3
Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, VIC 3122, Australia
4
Cognitive Neurophysiology, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, TU Dresden, Fetscherstr. 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(3), 823; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9030823
Received: 26 February 2020 / Revised: 12 March 2020 / Accepted: 14 March 2020 / Published: 18 March 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Alcohol Hangover: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment)
In 2016, the Alcohol Hangover Research Group defined the alcohol hangover as “the combination of mental and physical symptoms experienced the day after a single episode of heavy drinking, starting when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) approaches zero”. In the light of new findings and evidence, we carefully reviewed the different components of that definition. Several studies demonstrated that alcohol hangovers are not limited to heavy drinking occasions. Instead, data from both student and non-student samples revealed that at a group level, alcohol hangover may occur at much lower BAC levels than previously thought. Regression analysis further revealed that for individual drinkers, the occurrence of hangovers is more likely when subjects consume more alcohol than they usually do. However, hangovers may also occur at a drinker’s usual BAC, and in some cases even at lower BAC (e.g. in case of illness). We also carefully reviewed and modified other parts of the definition. Finally, hangovers are not necessarily limited to the ‘next day’. They can start at any time of day or night, whenever BAC approaches zero after a single dinking occasion. This may also be on the same day as the drinking occasion (e.g. when drinking in, or until the morning and subsequently having a hangover in the afternoon or evening). To better reflect the new insights and sharpen the description of the concept, we hereby propose to update the definition of the alcohol hangover as follows: “The alcohol hangover refers to the combination of negative mental and physical symptoms which can be experienced after a single episode of alcohol consumption, starting when blood alcohol concentration (BAC) approaches zero”, and recommend to use this new definition in future hangover research. View Full-Text
Keywords: alcohol; hangover; definition alcohol; hangover; definition
MDPI and ACS Style

Verster, J.C.; Scholey, A.; van de Loo, A.J.; Benson, S.; Stock, A.-K. Updating the Definition of the Alcohol Hangover. J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9, 823.

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