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Party Debt: Your Hangovers Get Worse as You Age

You may not want to admit it, but it’s time to face facts: You’re getting older every single day. That means you may not be able to do everything with the carefree ease and flexibility you used to. And yes, the aging issue even applies to drinking alcohol – but especially those dreaded hangovers.

A 2013 survey from Redemption, a group that promotes-alcohol free bars, showed that peak hangover age is 29. After that, our alcohol tolerance and our body’s ability to handle hangovers begins to decrease.

Age and Hangovers

If losing beer weight and boosting your savings aren’t quite enough incentive to stop drinking, never having to deal with a painful hangover again might be.

Here are five reasons why hangovers get worse as you get older:

  • You’ve gained weight: One of the inevitable by-products of getting older is putting on a few pounds. More body fat results in lower alcohol tolerance because fats can’t absorb alcohol. This is especially relevant for women, who typically have more body fat than men and generally report lower alcohol tolerance.

  • Your body can’t process drinks the way you used to: Whether it’s a leg injury or a big night out, your body takes longer to recover after age 25. That’s because it deals with systemic insults, which include excessive shots of tequila, less effectively. Just because you could handle 10 beers at age 21 doesn’t mean you’ll still be able to at age 31.

  • You’re on medication: Most over-the-counter and prescription medications affect the way the body processed and breaks down alcohol. Since most of us are on some sort of medication by middle-age, drinking can become problematic.

  • You have less water in your system: Even if you’re consuming the recommended eight glasses of water per day, it may not be enough to ward off hangovers because your body water content decreases as you get older. Not only does this mean alcohol remains in a more concentrated form in your system for longer, but the risk of dehydration and the hangovers associated with it also greatly increases.

  • You’re done with drinking: Heavy drinking may have been fun during those early college years when you had minimal responsibilities, but now that you’re adulting, being hungover for the day carries far more consequences. Many people decide it’s simply not worth it and either drink less or stop drinking, reducing their tolerance and increasing the risk for a painful hangover altogether.

All Things Neurological

“All things become less joyful as we age for neurological reasons,” explained Dr. Chris Van Tulleken, a British doctor specializing in infectious diseases.

“But as our lives get more complex, losing a couple of days to a bender creates a lot more self-loathing when you have bills to pay than it did when you simply missed a couple of lectures at university.”


Additional Reading: Want to Ward Off Alcoholism? Put a Ring On It!