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Surprising Things Your Alcohol Habit Reveals About You, Says New Study

A new analysis uncovers undeniable patterns between drinking and general decision-making.
FACT CHECKED BY Faye Brennan
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It's been widely reported that alcohol sales saw a boom this past year, as the COVID-19 lockdown put many of us in a frenzy of stress without a lot of methods to ease it. If your drinking habit has been on your mind, a new study is providing more insight into why moderation may be key.

A new analysis of past studies that will soon be published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism looked at 80 samples of 63,000 study participants. The past studies had largely examined three independent variables: How much and how frequently participants drank alcohol, how often they binge-drank, and how often their drinking led to negative outcomes.

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The findings indicate (perhaps unsurprisingly) that impulsivity and neuroticism are associated with heavier and more frequent drinking. Also, according to Psychology Today, the results showed, "People who were impulsive, hostile, depressed, and felt vulnerable, were significantly more likely to experience negative consequences related to their alcohol use."

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Maybe this doesn't seem like a big reveal—but what's new about this analysis is that the researchers zeroed in on two particular personality traits that seem to curb regrettable outcomes, even for people who reported drinking a little too much. They looked at the impacts of "conscientiousness," essentially defined as having a sense of responsibility and self-control, and agreeableness, described loosely as being trusting and trustworthy in common interactions. Here's the twist: the participants who rated higher on conscientiousness and agreeableness reported drinking just as often as the impulsive and neurotic types, but this easier-going bunch were less likely to binge drink or experience negative events caused by their drinking. 

One encouraging note the combination of studies revealed for all the types of drinkers who were examined is this: As we get older, neuroticism tends to decrease while our levels of conscientiousness and agreeableness grow, and therefore, minimize our chances of making decisions while we're drunk that we'll later wish we hadn't.

If you're looking for ways to take care of yourself a little better than last year, read up on the common habit that raises the risk of early death by 50%, according to a new study.

Krissy Gasbarre
Krissy is a senior news editor at Eat This, Not That!, managing morning and weekend news related to nutrition, wellness, restaurants, groceries, and more. Read more
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