DrinkedIn Trends

Trending articles about cocktail recipes, bars, pubs, beer, wine, whisky, vodka, parties and much more...

Can Different Types of Alcohol Affect My Body Differently?

Can Different Types of Alcohol Affect My Body Differently?

Any experienced drinker knows that no two nights of drinking lead to an identical morning after. Some mornings it may feel like you simply didn’t log enough sleep, while others like a truck ran over your head… twice. But do you know why? Modern science claims that “alcohol is alcohol,” yet many who drink swear different alcoholic beverages cause significantly different reactions in their mental and physical state. The truth, as always, is not black and white.  While the way alcohol is metabolized in the body is consistent no matter what you are drinking, different people drinking the same thing may react differently and the same people drinking different things may also react differently. So what gives?  The way you feel after drinking depends on a variety of factors, including who you are, what you drink and how you drink it.

First, it is important to note that the body does technically metabolize all alcohol the same way. To put it simply, once a drink enters the stomach it will be carried by blood vessels to the blood stream. There, about 20% of the alcohol is absorbed while the remaining 80% is absorbed through the small intestine. Once there, the alcohol will enter the blood stream through the small intestine walls and then be metabolized by the liver. On average, the liver can process one ounce of liquor per hour. When you consume alcohol at a faster rate, your system becomes saturated and the additional alcohol will accumulate in your blood stream until it can become metabolized. This is where feeling drunk begins.

Your body metabolizes all alcohol this way, from a pint of beer to a glass of wine to a shot of vodka. So what leads to different outcomes? First of all, women metabolize alcohol at a different rate than men. This has been attributed to women having less body water, so the percentage of alcohol entering their blood stream is a higher, leading them to become drunk more quickly. Additionally, things like body weight, medications and how much food you’ve eaten that day can all affect how quickly you become intoxicated by affecting the alcohol absorption in the stomach.  This is why smaller women tend may be considered “lightweights” and why you should always eat dinner before drinking.

It may not be a surprise to you that a cheerleader becomes drunk more quickly than a husky football player, but the content of a drink and your mindset during drinking can affect your degree of intoxication as well. If you’re drinking a mixed drink, it likely includes soda or fruit juice. Soda, or any other carbonated beverage, speeds up the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and will leave you feeling drunker faster. Not only that, the caffeine present in soda will keep you alert, meaning you may not realize how significantly the alcohol is affecting you until you are already too drunk. Likewise, using a fruit juice as a mixer masks the taste of alcohol due to the acidity and sugar. Not being able to taste the alcohol in a drink will lead to drinking faster which leads to – you guessed it – becoming drunk more quickly than if you were drinking, say, a vodka on the rocks where you can taste how strong it is.

Perhaps you have heard someone claim “tequila makes me crazy” or “whiskey makes me mean.” When considering that all alcohol is metabolized the same way, it might lead you to believe that these differences aren’t possible. If you took two people of identical gender, height and weight and gave one an ounce of whiskey and one an ounce of tequila and asked them to drink at the same rate, they would likely have identical reactions. However, in reality this is not how people drink.

Let’s look at tequila for our example. Tequila is a Mexican export so deeply associated with party culture by Americans that there is even a popular song called "Tequila" that, while released in 1958, can still be heard at clubs and parties today. The favorite way to consume tequila? In a shot glass, with some salt and a lime.

While there are mixed drinks that include tequila, tequila shots are a staple for any night on the town.  Shots are consumed and enter the blood stream far more quickly than mixed drinks and with no additional liquid to dilute them. By taking shots your liver will become saturated far more quickly than by sipping on a beer. So, while many say "tequila makes me crazy," it is more likely that the mental association of wild times combined with shot after shot of tequila at a rate far more quickly than one would consume a mixed drink leads to a crazy night and not the tequila itself.

Although I just discussed tequila, by looking at other drinks you can identify the source of different associations. Many people associate red wine with sleep, but that may be because they typically drink it slowly, during dinner, with a heavy meal. All of these things together can make you feel sluggish, but the wine itself isn’t putting you to sleep. “Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear; beer before liquor, never been sicker” is a common rhyme meant to give drinking advice. However, it’s not the order of the drink that affects your experience so much as how quickly you consumer alcohol. If you’re drinking 40 proof hard liquor and then switch to a 5% alcohol glass of beer, theoretically drinking at the same speed, the rate you are consuming alcohol would decrease and you would feel just fine. However, if you begin to drink highly concentrated vodka after sipping on beer the alcohol level in your system will drastically increase, leading you to feel extremely drunk and possibly sick as the speed at which your liver becomes saturated increases.

In conclusion, while your body technically metabolizes all alcohol in the same way, there are far different implications depending on the various other factors. Pay attention to how different mixers make you feel and never drink on an empty stomach. To play it safe, drink your drinks slow, keep shots to a minimum, remember to consume water and coordinate your transportation in advance.

Freelance writer, Jordyn Fisher, contributed this article on behalf of Atlanta DUI attorney, Peachstate Lawyer.

Location (Map)

Atlanta, GA, USA
Muddling vs. Infusion vs. Flavored Syrup
The Resinator Cocktail: MxMo 79