New research uncovers personality type most likely to binge drink

Caroline Allen
Contributor
The new study could change how we look at binge drinking in the future. [Photo: Getty]

A new study has looked into different of personality types and whether they make us more or less likely to binge drink.

The research has been released at quite a pertinent time, given the pressure many of us feel to drink alcohol over Christmas.

From office parties to mulled-wine infused Christmas markets, it’s hard to entirely steer clear of binge drinking situations in December.

According to the study, some people will find these events a little harder to avoid than others - and that might be down to the way our brains are wired.

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Neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University and The Salk Institute observed the brains of mice when exposed to alcohol to see which ones would continue to compulsively drink.

The research determined that there are three different types of drinking personalities: light, medium and compulsive bingers.

In this instance a binge drinker is described as somebody who “continues to drink despite it resulting in a negative outcome”. It established that there was something going on in the “binge drinkers” brains to keep them drinking way beyond their limits.

It turns out that it’s all down to what has been described as “punishment signals”.

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If a brain simulated punishment - i.e. could simulate the future and determine that if they kept drinking they would end up feeling ill - they were less likely to be binge drinkers.

However, those with “diminished” punishment signals - those who didn’t think about possible outcomes of the alcohol ahead of drinking it - were more likely to showcase compulsive behaviour.

Because this brain wiring is apparent with or without alcohol, the researchers were able to accurately predict which mice would and would not binge drink, even before they did it.

“We were actually able to predict which subjects would become compulsive, based on neural activity during the very first time they drank.” Dr Cody Siciliano, study author and an assistant pharmacology professor explained.

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He said that he found the results “surprising” specifically when one third of adults compulsively drink when presented with alcohol.

This breakthrough could be vital in tackling a culture of binge drinking which has been a ubiquitous presence in the UK for many years.

In good news, the Office of National Statistics recently reported that alcohol consumption is down by 40% since 2004 as the younger generation shun alcohol and its addictive ways.

In its place a new trend has emerged in which people are being sober-shamed for giving up alcohol.

The poll, of 1,000 UK Brits aged 18 to 60 years, by non-alcoholic dark spirit, Celtic Soul, discovered that a staggering 64% of men had been shamed for their decision not to drink alcohol.

It’s research like this that shows just how far we’ve still got to go in the bid to stamp out the binge-drinking culture.

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