It’s no secret that alcohol—a depressant drug—messes with your emotions. Maybe you’re a weeping drunk. Or you get nostalgic. Or angry. Or inexplicably giddy. Sometimes, it’s a sloppy combination of all of the above.
Thanks to a new survey conducted by alcoholic.org, we now have more insight into the most common emotions people feel when they imbibe as well as which drinks are most associated with which emotions.
In the poll of 1,000 folks across the U.S., nearly 95 percent of men and 97 percent of women said that hitting the bottle makes them feel happy, to which we say….no shit.
Perhaps more surprisingly, though, is the fact that despite the common trope of the drunk crier, only 14.7 percent of men and 15 percent of women feel sad when liquoring up, although nearly 50 percent of all people reported having depressing thoughts while drinking.
In terms of specific moods elicited by specific hooch, men reported that vodka, gin, and whisky—in that order—made them feel the saddest, whereas women ranked wine as the most tear-inducing beverage. Interestingly though, both men and women cited vino as making them feel the most creative and nostalgic, and men even said wine made them feel the happiest, trailed by cocktails and IPAs.
On the other end of the emotional spectrum, men reported having the greatest feelings of disgust after drinking gin (we respectfully disagree); shots made them feel both the most anxious and overwhelmed (no argument there); tequila simply scared them (maybe because they had scary good tequila?); and whiskey made both men and women feel sad and overwhelmed.
But just why does tossing back a few brewskis make us feel all of these feels?
For one, alcohol can strip away the layers of coping and defense mechanisms that we employ in everyday life, like being guarded, self-conscious, or regimented, explained Dr. John Mayer, a Chicago-based practicing clinical psychologist. “Your constitutional personality or emotions can be exposed,” he said.
Imbibing also dulls your reaction time and sense of surrounding. “Therefore, you are taking in signals from the environment which are false and then reacting to them and that is changing your emotions,” said Mayer, citing an example of someone misinterpreting a benign stimulus as threatening and thus becoming aggressive or angry.
And in terms of why certain types of drinks may evoke certain types of emotions, there’s no hard science to back up the survey findings, but Mayer points to physiology. “It comes down to the reaction time that the particular alcohol has in getting into the bloodstream,” he said, explaining that hard alcohol, like whiskey, gin, and vodka, gets into your system more quickly than beer or wine, triggering the mind/body interplay of emotions at a more rapid rate. This means someone pounding shots will more quickly—and perhaps more dramatically—experience the emotional effects of hard alcohol compared to someone slowing sipping a lager.
So the next time you saddle up to the bar or swing by the liquor store, consider the emotions that may come bubbling up with your glass of bubbly—and drink it wisely.
You can check out the full results of the alcohol-fueled emotions survey — including a geographic breakdown of the findings—here.