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You're Not Imagining it, Gin Makes You Feel More Aggressive

But so does vodka, rum, and basically all other spirits.
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Once ordered only by British grandmas, the humble G&T is now mid-renaissance. Simple enough to order at the pub, fun enough to order on a night out—it might be the perfect drink. Refreshing, good price-alcohol ratio, and definitely not the reason you're suddenly telling all your friends "what you really think" about them.

Or maybe it is.

New research using data from the Global Drug Survey has found drinking spirits is strongly associated with feelings of aggression. Nearly a third of spirit drinkers reported feeling aggressive when they imbibe—more than 20 percent higher than the findings beer, red wine, or white wine.


"For centuries, the history of rum, gin, vodka, and other spirits has been laced with violence," says Professor Mark Bellis who co-authored the study. He's right, though gin in particular has long been mired by associations to poverty, madness, depression, and death since its early days of excess in 18th century London.

"This global study suggests even today consuming spirits is more likely to result in feelings of aggression than other drinks," Professor Bellis says.

Men were far more likely to experience feelings of aggression when drinking any type of alcohol. However, beer and white wine drinkers were the least likely to feel aggressive when they drink, and were far more likely to feel relaxed and confident.

For those throwing back red wines, the most commonly reported feeling was "tired," which is genuinely the least surprising finding in scientific history.

Almost across the board, spirits were found to elicit a stronger emotional response from people than any other alcohol—rendering drinkers feeling more energised (58.36 percent), confident (59.08 percent), sexy (42.42 percent), aggressive (29.83 percent), ill (47.82 percent), restless (27.81 percent), and tearful (22.24 percent).

Digging into the data for Australia, there are a few interesting differences. For one, white wine tends to be most strongly associated with feeling aggressive downunder, rather than spirits. The chardys also make us feel more ill than other drinks. And, if you're worried about getting a bit teary after a few, probably avoid the beers.


Read more about last year's GDS findings: How long does it take to get cocaine delivered in cities around the world?

According to Global Drug Survey founder Professor Adam Winstock, the emotions people experience when they drink aren't linked to the type of alcohol they are drinking. Instead, the issue is the amount they're able to throw back.

"Alcohol is alcohol no matter the form and it all acts on the brain in the same way," Professor Winstock says. "So it's likely that part of our key findings will be related to dose, that is how much alcohol people end up drinking when they consume different types of alcohol."

According to Professor Winstock, it's easy to consume more alcohol than you planned to if you're drinking spirits—particularly if you're mixing them at home and trying to eyeball 30 mLs.

On the whole, the study is bad news for those of us who tend to overdo it with the mixed drinks. But especially vodka, lime, and soda drinkers. Not only are they boring, they're just as moody and aggressive as us G&T fans.

The 2018 Global Drug Survey is currently open, it takes about 15 minutes to complete. If you want to have your say, check out the survey site.