Myth - does mixing your drinks make you more drunk?

09 January 2018

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As we’re just coming out of the festive period, Katie Haylor’s been debunking a few untruths about how we can reduce the effects of getting a bit too merry...

Katie - First up, let’s start before your big night out. Lining your stomach with a good meal will stop you getting drunk, right? Wrong. Having food in your stomach will only delay the rate at which your body absorbs the alcohol you’re drinking into your bloodstream. So you might not feel as drunk as quickly, but drink enough and you are going to get drunk whether you had dinner or not. But, because it slows down how fast you’re absorbing alcohol, eating a meal before you go out could be worthwhile in order to avoid getting too sloshed too quickly.

Fast forward through the evening and you’re on your night out and making your way back to the bar for a second drink, but what do you choose? It’s commonly believed that mixing different types of alcoholic drinks can make you more drunk. Nope. It’s how much alcohol you’re drinking rather than where it’s come from that’s important here, be it from wine, beer, spirits or whatever your tipple. Of course, different drinks contain different amounts of alcohol, and are served in different quantities. Whereas a 330 bottle of 5% lager packs about 1.7 units, a 250ml glass of a 12% red wine contains 3.

Handily, you can get a grip on how many units are in your drink by a simple equation…Strength: that red wine at 12% times volume, say 250ml, divided by 1000 equals 3 units in your drink. The strength will be displayed on the bottle.

So next time someone tells you not to mix your drinks, you can both thoroughly dispel them of that notion and reduce your chance of getting invited to the pub again. While mixing drinks doesn't make you more drunk, this doesn’t mean that alternating between tequila and sauvignon blanc is a good idea as it can affect you in other ways like upsetting your stomach, or making it harder to keep tabs on how much alcohol you’ve imbibed.

Interesting, a 2003 study in the journal Alcohol and Alcoholism suggests that the bubbles in fizz may increase the rate at which alcohol is absorbed leading to, as they put it, more rapid or severe intoxication. But it’s worth noting that there were only 12 participants involved.

Oh dear. Your night’s taken a turn for the worse and you’ve overdone it, and you’ve got a busy morning the next day. Why not have a coffee, that will sober you up, right?

Sorry. Once the caffeine from your latte kicks in you’ll feel more awake but it’s not actually making the body metabolise the alcohol any faster. As a rough indicator, 1 unit of alcohol is processed by your body in about an hour. This varies for lots of reasons including your age, sex, weight, and metabolism.

So, why not stop the search for a sober solution and just keep tabs on how much you’ve been drinking?

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