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Do carbonated (fizzy) drinks make you drunk faster? It’s actually a surprisingly common question and one that doesn’t exactly have a straightforward answer.
Having a better understanding of your drink choices can help you plan your night better. Especially if you’re trying to do everything you can to avoid a hangover.
How fast alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream can be an important factor and whether carbonated drinks have an impact on this is worth knowing about.
In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at whether carbonated drinks make you drunk faster. To give you a scientifically accurate answer, we’re going to base our article on published research papers.
How is alcohol absorbed?
Alcohol is absorbed into your bloodstream within 90 seconds of drinking. It’s absorbed directly into your bloodstream without the need for enzymes in your stomach to break it down.
That means, most of the alcohol you drink is absorbed straight through your stomach and small intestine.
As a result, having an empty stomach massively speeds up how fast alcohol reaches your bloodstream.(1)
It’s commonly believed that drinking milk will “line your stomach” and slow down alcohol absorption. While it’s true that milk will help, in actual fact, it’s not just milk that will achieve this. Studies have shown that eating anything will slow absorption.(2)
In addition, drinks with higher alcohol concentrations like spirits will increase your blood alcohol concentrations faster than drinks with lower concentrations.(3)
For example, there’s a study that blood alcohol concentrations peaked at around 30 minutes after drinking spirits. Whereas drinking beer was closer to 1 hour.(4)
Drinks that make you “drunk faster” are ones that increase your blood alcohol concentration the fastest. Therefore, drinking on an empty stomach and spirits should, in theory, make you drunk faster. You can read more about this in our article on how long it takes to get drunk.
So, do carbonated drinks also make you drunk faster?
Now that we’ve got some of the basics out the way, we’ll hone in on this question.
Do carbonated drinks make you drunk faster?
Carbonated drinks are fizzy because they contain bubbles of carbon dioxide. This is either formed naturally during the fermentation process of alcohol (like with champagne). Or, it can be dissolved artificially like in soft drinks.
Interestingly, there are studies that have shown that carbonated drinks can make you drunk faster.
For example, a group in Manchester UK tested how fast alcohol is absorbed in 21 volunteers. They found that 14 out of 21 subjects absorbed alcohol with the carbonated mixer at a faster rate, with 7 subjects showing either no change or a decrease in rate. Therefore, the results were conflicting. (5)
In another study with 12 volunteers, they also found that champagne absorption was speedier and supported the idea that carbonated drinks make you drunk faster. However, they go on to emphasize that their study is very small and they don’t know why carbonation speeds up absorption.(6)
Aside from these two studies, there are very limited credible research studies that have looked into whether carbonated drinks make you drunk faster.
In summary: There is popular belief that carbonated alcoholic drinks make you drunk faster. However, there is very little in the way of research studies to prove this. That said, there are a couple of studies (albeit small) that have shown that carbonated drinks speed up alcohol absorption.
How do carbonated drinks make you drunk faster?
Although there is some evidence to say that carbonated drinks make you drunk faster, the research studies mentioned above don’t know how it does.
There’s a suggestion that carbonated drinks push alcohol from your stomach to your small intestine faster. And, alcohol is absorbed faster in the small intestine than in the stomach.
However, no one has proven this to be true.
Anything else to consider?
If carbonated drinks were to get you drunk faster, it could have implications for your hangovers. The reason is, big spikes in blood alcohol concentration followed by crashes can wreak havoc on your insides. This is especially the case on your endocrine system which controls the release of hormones that keep your body in sync.(7)
Another thing to consider is that carbonated drinks can make you feel more uncomfortable because of bloating. You can read more about this in our article on bloating after drinking alcohol.
Alcohol's pleasurable effects are experienced when it’s absorbed at a slower rate. It also gives your liver a chance to metabolize it and, therefore, reduces the risk of you waking up with a hangover.
Do carbonated drinks make you drunk faster? – Final verdict
That brings us to the end of our look at whether or not carbonated drinks make you drunk faster or not.
There are a couple of small-scale studies that have shown that fizzy drinks, meaning either spirit with a carbonated mixer or champagne can make you drunk faster.
That said, in one of the studies, the opposite results were found.
In summary, it’s still not fully proven whether carbonated drinks make you drunk faster, and therefore more research needs to be done.