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4 strange reasons you drink too much

Beer being poured

 (iStock)

You may think binge drinking is just for college guys, but new research from the CDC finds that one in six U.S. adults are binge drinkers. (That’s 5 drinks in a night for guys.) Why do we tend to drink more than we know we should? Science has some surprising answers. Check out these crazy things that are encouraging you to drink too much.

The Media. The more you’re exposed to images of alcohol in the media, the more likely you are to drink, reports a study published in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism. The researchers monitored the alcohol consumption of 80 males (ages 18 to 29) who were exposed to media that either did or did not display images of alcohol with the film (or commercials). The men were broken up into groups and placed in comfortable theatre-like rooms where there were both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages available to them. The results found that those who watched commercials or movies where drinking was highly prevalent drank an average of 1.5 bottles (300 ml) more than those who watched similar media where alcohol played a less-prominent role.

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The Suffering Economy. Researchers from the University of Miami found that the worse off the economy is, the worse your drinking habits become. Over a span of 4 years, the study surveyed more than 43,000 people—monitoring drinking behaviors and the state unemployment rates. And after punching the data, the researchers found that every time the state unemployment rate increased by 1 percent, there was a 17 percent increase in cases alcohol abuse.

Your Brain. Although scientists have assumed this for quite some time, the latest research confirms that drinking releases feel-good chemicals in the “pleasure center” of the brain. Researchers from the University of California used PET imaging (which captures the regions of the brain that “light up” in response to alcohol) to monitor the effects of drinking in the brains of 13 heavy drinkers and compare them against images of 12 infrequent drinkers. Although all of the subjects experienced a release of endorphins from the alcohol, those who were heavier drinkers experienced higher levels of endorphins—which ultimately leads to more alcohol because they received more pleasure from drinking.

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The Loud Music. Cranking up the volume at the bar may actually cause people to drink more, reports a study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. French researchers monitored 40 men over the course of three Saturday evenings, tracking the amount of alcohol they consumed when the music in the bar was played at various volumes. Their results showed that there was a positive correlation between loud music and the amount of time it took for men to empty their glasses. When the music was loud, it took the average guy roughly 12 minutes to finish his drink—compared to about 15 minutes when the music was being played at a normal level.

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