More Drunk Than You Thought? Blame it on the Music

music and alcohol
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I solely blame all of the speeding tickets I got as a teenager on the music I blared from my stereo. Not that it was anything particularly bad, but it was definitely upbeat and put me in a good mood, which I’m still claiming made me push the gas pedal harder.

I don’t know if there’s any truth or proof to my theory, but there is proof that music can indeed affect what you do. A study recently published in Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology showed that listening to music can make women drink faster. Not just loud, raucous party music either; any music. While the study only included women, there’s no reason to think the same wouldn’t apply to the other gender as well.

Have you ever been out at a bar (where you can rarely hear yourself think, let alone talk, due to the pounding “background” music), claimed you weren’t drunk, then headed outside to go home and suddenly the sidewalk is spinning? Maybe the music is to blame. (Blame anyone but yourself, right?) The previously mentioned study showed that not only did music make the women drink more, it also dulled the effects of the alcohol. Women who were listening to music as they drank reported fewer side effects from the alcohol such as relaxation and feelings of calmness while they listened to a soundtrack. Perhaps the lack of noticeable effect is what triggers you to pick up drink after drink at the bar, thinking the alcohol isn’t affecting you or that you haven’t had as much as you thought.

Surprisingly it wasn’t a fast tempo that caused the increased drinking. The study included three groups: no music, slow music, and fast music. Both of the music groups, whether slow or fast, yielded similar results. So next time you think you’re impervious to the effects of alcohol when you’re at a party or a bar, take a minute to note if there’s music playing. You might want to step outside into the quiet for a bit before proudly claiming you’re not drunk even though you’ve had more than plenty to drink. And if you happen to own a bar or restaurant, playing music sounds like a great business strategy.