If you’re a drinker, do you mix your alcoholic drinks with regular soft drinks or diet? Research at the University of North Texas shows that drinks made with diet soda make you more inebriated and keep you drunk longer than drinks mixed with a normal soft drink.
“More attention needs to be paid to how alcohol is being consumed in the ‘real world,’” says Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University. “Researchers found that, one, individuals who reported consuming alcohol with diet beverages had the highest BrACs (breath alcohol concentrations), as compared to all other bar patrons, and two, that women tended to be more frequent consumers of diet mixers with their alcohol. These good naturalistic observations give researchers many ideas to explore in a controlled laboratory setting.”
The researchers were alarmed to note that although drinkers were more intoxicated after downing drinks made with diet soda, they were unaware of their increased incapacitation. Many of the drinkers thought they were OK to drive even though they were clearly drunk.
“Alcohol consumed with a diet mixer results in higher BrACs as compared to the same amount of alcohol consumed with a sugar-sweetened mixer,” says Marczinski. “The subjects were unaware of this difference, as measured by various subjective ratings including feelings of intoxication, impairment, and willingness to drive. Moreover, their behavior was more impaired when subjects consumed the diet mixer.”