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Drugs & Health Blog

Expectations and Alcohol: The Fun May Be in Your Head

This blog post is archived and is no longer being updated. For the latest content, please visit the main Drugs & Health Blog page.
Sara Bellum

Some common reasons people give for why they drink alcohol in social situations include:

  • I feel more outgoing.
  • It loosens me up.
  • I have more fun.

Lots of factors play into people’s expectations of alcohol’s supposed power to make them more social—from advertising to teen party movies, the alcohol industry has a lot to gain from making people believe positive things about alcohol.

In fact, research shows that a person’s expectations of how they will feel after drinking alcohol may have more to do with their experience, and how much fun they have, than the alcohol itself. Although alcohol does create an initial “buzz,” it also slows a person down and makes them feel tired.

A recent study looked at college students’ expectations about alcohol and how those expectations influenced how much the students drank. Part of the experiment involved giving some students alcoholic drinks and others non-alcoholic drinks. Neither group knew which type they received. In the end, students had a hard time identifying whether they were drinking alcohol or not.

And guess what? Those who consumed non-alcoholic drinks had just as much fun as the ones who consumed alcohol.

This means that if you go out expecting to feel social and outgoing, you likely will feel that way, regardless of whether you drink alcohol—or not.

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


so true
i do understand that alcohol initially has effects similar to uppers but eventually turns into downers. wouldn't it be just because their advertisements are more convincing than the adds which aims to prevent alcohol addiction. oh well maybe we just need to exert more effort to help the youth understand the negative effects of alcohol. [commercial link removed, per guidelines]
I'll have just as much fun if I drink non alcoholic beverages? O_O THANK YOU! Now I won't feel as pressured (come college, you know). =D
Drinking makes you look ugly ^..^
Teengers think having alcohol is fun..Sometime it give a different direction to their path and life also.After having alcohol expectation how they feel was like they were fly in the air.
even know drinking is bad for you everyone still does is...... and it can have short and long term affects. so you should think about that. personaly i have drunk before without my parents knowing and it was really bad. i think they knew i did it. i didnt fee so good after i did it. =]
Alcohol really does loosen you up. Your inhibitions lower themselves just a bit, and you have "liquid courage". Liquid courage, and a good loosening up, really can add more fun to whatever youre doing. Try this for example. Go camping, lay out your tent and start a fire. Now what. You sit there, soberly enjoying flies, gnats and mosquitoes. Now an alternate scene, you set up your equipment, and start a fire. You have a couple drinks, youre happy, fuzzy, and more open to do different things, such as running around screaming while swatting flies, gnats, and mosquitoes.