NewsOwn drunkenness is often underestimated

Own drunkenness is often underestimated

A wet and happy experiment at the University of Witten-Herdecke worries doctors: After drinking alcohol, many people misjudge their own drunkenness. What could help

Witten – After drinking beer and wine, according to an experiment, a large proportion of people underestimate their breath alcohol value – and overestimate their fitness to drive.

Doctors describe the alcohol-laden experiment at the University of Witten-Herdecke in the Ruhr area in the specialist magazine “Harm Reduction Journal”. 90 participants from Germany – with good physical fitness and an average of 24 years old – were asked for the study to get drunk with beer and white wine under controlled conditions. Among other things, they were supposed to assess when they had reached the legal alcohol limit for driving. In Germany this is a value of 0.5 per mille.

Many exceeded the limit

During the experiment, the test subjects should continue to drink until, in their opinion, they had reached the alcohol limit. On the first day of the study, 39 percent of the participants only reported after they were above the threshold. On a second day of the study, it was even 53 percent who had drunk too much. A few even exceeded the legal limit very clearly – and still considered themselves roadworthy.

The results were independent of whether the test subjects first drank beer or wine. According to the study, gender did not make any significant difference in the ability to self-assess. According to the experts, drinking and driving still represents a high but avoidable accident and therefore health risk worldwide, despite many educational efforts.

“The frequency of misjudgments must worry us because few are enough to cause serious accidents in road traffic,” said study director Kai Hensel, who now works at the University Hospital Göttingen, of the German Press Agency. In addition, it has been shown that the tendency to underestimate one’s own drunkenness increases with increasing alcohol consumption: the more the test subjects drank, the more their self-assessment deviated from the actual measured values.

Controlled drunkenness

“However, the study also gives indications of certain learning effects, so we believe that it can certainly help to raise one’s own awareness of the effect of alcohol on driving ability,” said Hensel. It therefore makes sense to use awareness-raising campaigns to show how quickly your own limit in terms of driving ability can be reached – for example through test stations in areas where alcohol is drunk, according to Hensel.

In the experiment, for example, an average of 1.4 liters of beer were drunk in a little over two hours until the alcohol limit was exceeded. A short bottle was sufficient for white wine – “and it can be assumed that the breath alcohol level measured after more than two hours of 0.6 per mille increases even after drinking, because the alcohol gradually passes into the blood,” says Hensel. In addition, the participants had all eaten together beforehand.

Further study results that dealt with the subsequent hangover effects of controlled drinking had already been evaluated and published at an earlier point in time. dpa

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