“All suffering together”: Student drinkers’ experiences of alcohol hangover

Christine Griffin, Paula Smith, Maddie Freeman, Sally Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (SciVal)


Background. There is a pervasive norm of drinking to intoxication among young people in many affluent countries, despite recent falls in overall alcohol consumption. Students’ accounts of their experiences of alcohol hangovers have not been explored in any depth, which is surprising given the high rates of heavy episodic drinking amongst this group. This study investigated student drinkers’ lay health beliefs about alcohol hangovers, considering the role of hangovers in student drinking culture and the implications for safer drinking initiatives.
Method. The present study involved a Thematic analysis of semi-structured individual interviews with 23 students aged 18 to 29 (8 women and 15 men) at a university in South West England about their thoughts, feelings and experiences regarding hangovers and drinking.
Results. Hangovers were relatively frequent events for most participants, associated with heavy drinking and producing unpleasant physical and psychological effects. Participants employed a range of strategies to minimise the effects of hangovers although very few considered reducing their alcohol consumption. A key negative aspect of hangovers involved low mood and social isolation, in contrast to the positive experience of shared collective suffering that strengthened social bonds in participants’ friendship groups.
Conclusions. Collective periods of shared suffering formed a valued aspect of participants’ hangover experiences, strengthening group identity and linking to the culture of heavy drinking. It is important to acknowledge positive as well as negative aspects of students’ views on hangovers in public health guidance on young adults’ alcohol consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
JournalAddiction Research & Theory
Issue number6
Early online date21 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Alcohol education
  • culture of intoxication
  • hangover
  • interview study
  • qualitative analysis
  • student drinking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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