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The Drunken Monkey Study

A study that examined the effects of alcohol on a group of monkeys determined that the effects are highly similar to those found with humans. Jokingly referred to as the drunken monkey study, this was spearheaded by Scott Chen of the National Institutes of Health Animal Center in Maryland. The study found that when intoxicated, monkeys acted in the same way as humans.

The first thing the study found was that when monkeys were kept away from others, they tended to consume more alcohol. When groups of monkeys were kept together, they drank less alcohol than those monkeys separated from the crowd. They also discovered that after a particularly stressful day, the monkeys tended to indulge in more alcohol than they did after a relatively calm day.

Resources on the drunken monkey study include:

  • Drunk Monkeys Mirror People : discusses the study more in depth, including the findings.
  • The Drunken Monkey Hypothesis : examines how the effects of alcohol on monkeys impacts human studies.
  • Psych Education : focuses on the effects of alcohol on different groups of people and animals.
  • Drunk Monkeys : offers a look at how the study was performed.
  • Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs : focuses on a different study in which female monkeys drank alcohol and what that study proved.

The study looked at the specific rhesus monkey group and the subgroup known as the macaque group. In this group the scientists and researchers observed that certain monkeys in the group were more likely to abuse alcohol. They based this finding on different types of environmental factors and a genetic predisposition, similar to alcohol abuse in humans.

Scott Chen and his group studied the blood alcohol level in the monkeys and found that .08 was the limit most often found. This is regarded as the legal limit for adult humans. The group also observed the way in which the monkeys acted once they reached this limit. They found that the monkeys lost the ability to control their motor functions and would often sway. There were even instances where the monkeys were unable to walk and would fall over when attempting to walk. They even noted that the monkeys who drank the most got into the habit of drinking constantly until they eventually passed out or fell asleep.

The study looked at 21 female rhesus monkeys fitted with a special collar. The collar fitted around their neck and monitored the number of drinks they consumed and their blood alcohol level. Researchers served the monkeys an ethanol drink sweetened with aspartame. They then separated ten of the monkeys and ran the study again to observe how they acted when alone.

The study’s findings are especially important in terms of alcohol rehab. They discovered that the monkeys went through withdrawal pains when kept away from alcohol the same way that humans do. They also discovered that they could only use an alcohol treatment program to help the monkeys stop using alcohol. The study clearly showed that humans have quite a bit in common with these primates, at least in terms of alcohol consumption.

Further Reading