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How drunk we feel depends on our mates

AAP logoAAP 13/09/2016 Rebecca Gredley

How drunk you feel depends on how drunk your mates are rather than the amount of alcohol you have actually consumed, new research shows.

Researchers at Cardiff University found that while intoxicated and in drinking environments, people's perception of their state related to how their own drunkenness ranked in comparison to those around them.

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

Professor Simon Moore said the study had important implications for working towards reducing excessive alcohol consumption by either reducing the number of very drunk people in a drinking environment, or increasing the number of people who are sober.

"Researchers have historically worked under the assumption that those who drink most alcohol incorrectly imagine everyone else also drinks to excess," he said.

"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."

The study involved quizzing 400 people who had been drinking, and had an average age of 27, about how they perceived their level of drunkenness and the potential health consequences of their drinking.

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