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Unhappy Hour

As the Economy Tanks, Drinking Increases

October 14th, 2011

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“The problem with the world is that people are about three drinks behind,” Humphrey Bogart once famously said.

Well, not anymore it seems.

A new study, led by health economist Michael French at the University of Miami, shows that alcohol consumption skyrockets as economic conditions deteriorate. The researchers analyzed data from 2001 and 2005 and found, namely, that binge drinking, alcohol abuse and drunk-driving increase as state-level unemployment rises.

QUIZ: Are You Feeling Your Healthiest?

Seems obvious? It’s actually pretty extraordinary. Until now, studies had found that health outcomes improve during tough times—as in, money’s tight, so you’re not about to blow your paycheck on margaritas and mai tais. But now, hey, who cares! Let’s drink!

“Although income declines for many people during an economic downturn, these findings suggest that individuals engage in more risky drinking,” French told YouBeauty. “Perhaps as a way to self-medicate during tough times. Or they drink more because they have more leisure time.”

As always, the important point here: Moderation. Sure, a glass of red wine here and there isn’t a big deal—in fact, the cardiovascular benefits can be a great thing for your health—but binging and keg-standing your way through the recession isn’t doing you any favors. And needless to say, drunk-driving can have deadly consequences.

MORE: The Grape Debate of Red Wine: Is it a Superdrink?

So by all means, drink. Be merry. Relax. De-stress. Just remember to keep it all in check too. Uncle Sam is tricky enough, after all.

No need for a hangover and empty—err, emptier—wallet to boot.

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