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Role of Tobacco Smoking in Hangover Symptoms Among University Students

Kristina M. Jackson, Damaris J. Rohsenow, Thomas M. Piasecki, Jonathan Howland, Alison E. Richardson

Objective: Although hangover results from excessive alcohol consumption, the specific pathways through which hangover symptoms arise have not been elucidated. Research on predictors of hangover sensitivity may provide clues about such mechanisms. The present study investigated whether tobacco smoking on days of heavy drinking affects next-day hangover incidence and severity. Method: The study drew on diary data from a study on smoking and drinking among 113 students at a midwestern university in the United States. Participants completed a daily, web-based, 26-item survey for 8 weeks to assess prior-day alcohol and tobacco use as well as current-day hangover symptoms. Hierarchical linear modeling was used to test the hypothesis that amount of smoking is related to hangover, controlling for amount of alcohol consumed, sex, and other individual characteristics. Analyses were conducted after selecting only days with alcohol consumption levels that typically elicit hangover, then repeated on lighter drinking days for comparison. Validity of the hangover items was checked by comparing reports after such heavy drinking days with days of lighter drinking. Results: Across all possible person-days, 92% of daily reports were obtained. When selecting only events where an estimated blood alcohol concentration of 110 mg/dl was attained, smoking significantly increased the odds of hangover incidence and hangover severity while controlling for number of drinks consumed and sex. Additional analyses controlling for age first smoked regularly, frequency of drug use, type of drug involvement, or smoking status resulted in findings that were unchanged. Conclusions: Smoking more on heavy drinking days affects hangover sensitivity and severity, possibly because of acute pharmacological effects. (J. Stud. Alcohol Drugs, 74, 4149, 2013)