The association between alcohol hangover frequency and severity: Evidence for reverse tolerance?

Joris C. Verster, Karin A. Slot, Lizanne Arnoldy, Albertine E. van Lawick van Pabst, Aurora J.A.E. van de Loo, Sarah Benson, Andrew Scholey

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Although hangover is a common consequence of heavy alcohol consumption, the area is heavily under-researched. Hangover frequency is a potential predictor of future alcohol use disorder that may be affected by hangover severity, yet the relationship between hangover frequency and severity has not been investigated. Using different methodologies and assessment instruments, two surveys, and one naturalistic study collected data on hangover frequency, hangover severity, and alcohol consumption. The relationship between hangover frequency and severity was investigated via correlational analysis, considering potentially moderating variables including alcohol intake, estimated blood alcohol concentration, demographics, and personality characteristics. In all the three studies, a positive and significant association between hangover frequency and severity was found, which remained significant after correcting for alcohol intake and other moderating factors. These findings suggest that hangover severity increases when hangovers are experienced more frequently and may be driven by sensitization or reverse tolerance to this aspect of alcohol consumption. Future research should further investigate the relationship between hangover frequency and severity and alcohol use disorder and its implications for prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1520
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcohol
  • Frequency
  • Hangover
  • Severity
  • Tolerance

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