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Do Different Types of Alcohol Affect You Differently?

assorted alcoholic drinks

Many people claim that they experience different effects when they drink wine as opposed to tequila and other types of alcoholic drinks. Is this really the case, and what factors determine how alcohol affects your body and brain?

What Are the Different Types of Alcohol?

When it comes to alcoholic drinks, there are three main types: wine, spirits, and beer.

Wine is made from fermented grapes and the typical serving size of wine is 5 fluid ounces and contains about 12% alcohol.

Spirits contain the highest alcohol content of the three beverages. Examples of spirits include tequila, gin, whiskey, vodka, and rum. The standard serving size is 1.5 fluid ounces of distilled spirits which contains about 40% alcohol.

Beer has the least amount of alcohol content with 5% in a single serving, but the standard serving size is larger than a normal wine serving or a mixed drink, making one beer roughly equivalent to wine and hard alcohol.

How Do Different Types of Alcohol Affect Your Body and Brain?

Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows down your body's reaction time and movements. It also affects neurotransmitter levels in your brain, leading to different effects.

Alcoholic drinks that contain more alcohol can cause drunkenness and alcohol poisoning more quickly. Knowing the different types of alcohol can help you make better choices when it comes to drinking.

Beers and wines tend to be safer than hard liquors like vodka or whiskey, as these contain more water and therefore won't impact your bloodstream as much. Different types of alcohol affect neurotransmitter levels in different ways, but alcohol is alcohol - the effects won't be too different from drink to drink.

Are All Types of Alcohol Equally Bad for You?

When it comes down to it, drinking any type of alcohol can have negative effects on your health. Alcohol (regardless of whether you drink primarily wine, beer or spirits), can cause heart disease, cancer, pancreatitis, liver disease, and more.

Since alcohol inhibits your ability to make good decisions, it can cause risky behavior which can lead to injuries, violence, and alcohol poisoning.

Factors That Determine How Alcohol Affects You

Alcohol is eliminated from your body slower than it is absorbed, which means you can become more intoxicated as you drink more alcohol than is eliminated, which will result in an increase in your blood alcohol level.

The way that alcohol affects an individual will depend on their age, weight, sex, and genetics, but there are a few other factors to consider when determining how alcohol will affect you.

1. Consumption Rate

Ultimately, the way and rate at which alcohol is consumed will have a greater effect than the type of alcoholic drink. It's well known that drinking quickly will lead to intoxication faster, since it takes awhile for alcohol to leave your body.

2. Congeners

Congeners are the chemical impurities that are produced as byproducts of the fermentation and distillation process. They contribute to the taste, aroma, and color of the drink. As a general rule, the more distilled a spirit is, the lower the congeners.

Drinking alcoholic beverages that have more congeners usually causes a worse hangover than drinks with fewer congeners.

Drinks with high congeners include red wine, rum and brandy, while drinks with low congeners include vodka and beer. 

3. Food in Your Stomach

Food in the stomach will slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream and delay impairment. The larger the meal you eat beforehand, the less alcohol will affect you.

Which Types of Alcohol Lead to the Worst Hangovers?

If you're looking to avoid the worst hangovers, it's important to drink alcohol in moderation. Drinking too much of any one type of alcohol can lead to some terrible side effects, such as headaches, nausea, anxiety, and fatigue.

man taking medicine for hangover

All types of alcoholic drinks cause dehydration, which means that all types can lead to a hangover if you consume a high amount. However, clear liquors such as gin and vodka tend to cause fewer hangover effects than whiskey, brandy, and red wine because they contain fewer congeners.

How to Minimize the Effects of Alcohol

Drinking alcohol can be a fun and social experience, but it can also have some dangerous side-effects. To make sure you enjoy your drinks without getting hurt, here are some helpful tips.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking alcohol can be a fun and social experience, but it can also have some dangerous side-effects. To make sure you enjoy your drinks without getting hurt, here are some helpful tips.

Eat Beforehand

To minimize the effects of alcohol when drinking, it's best to eat something light and healthy before drinking so that the alcohol does not stay in your stomach for too long. This way, alcohol will not have a chance to enter into the duodenum where it could get into your bloodstream and potentially end up hurting you more than you think. 

Drink Slowly

Drinking slowly helps to lessen the impact of alcohol on your system and also helps you avoid intoxication. When drinking alcoholic beverages, always remember that taking things slow is key to avoiding any unpleasant surprises down the road. Ultimately, drinking in moderation is always key. 

What Are the Signs That You're Drinking Too Much?

Alcohol can be a beverage to enjoy with friends without overindulging, but it's important to be aware of the signs that you're drinking too much. The most common signs of overindulging include:

  • Unable to stick to a drinking limit
  • Often drinking to the point of blackout or hangovers
  • Defensive about your drinking
  • Using alcohol as a coping mechanism
  • Secretive about your drinking

Treatment for Alcohol Abuse

If you are feeling out of control or burdened by alcohol abuse, it is time to seek help. There are treatments available that can help recovering alcoholics achieve sobriety and lead healthy lives. These include support groups, detox programs, counseling services, as well as medications. Depending on your situation and needs, one of these options may be best for you. Please reach out to our addiction recovery team at Paramount Recovery Center to determine which program will be best suited for you and your situation.

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