Almost everyone has a tequila story. That time you danced on the bar; that time you broke your nose; that time you danced on the bar, fell off and broke your nose.
Lots of people believe that different types of alcohol get them different types of drunk. Here’s the thing: It’s not true.
In an essay published in the Conversation, an academic research-driven independent news website, Nicole Lee, professor at the National Drug Research Institute at Curtin University in Australia, counters an argument that’s been circulating after a recent study linked different types of alcoholic beverages with different mood states.
Regardless of what type of alcohol you are consuming, the active ingredient is ethanol, Lee says. Scientifically, its effect is always the same.
“The direct effects of alcohol are the same whether you drink wine, beer or spirits. There’s no evidence that different types of alcohol cause different mood states,” she says. Instead, it is what we think of alcoholic beverages, culturally, that affect our mood while drinking them.
These alcohol-related beliefs are called “expectancies,” and they’re the reason why we think red wine makes us feel sexy, tequila makes us crazy, or gin makes us melancholy. “If wine makes you relaxed, it’s probably because you usually sip it slowly in a calm and relaxed atmosphere. If tequila makes you crazy, maybe it’s because you usually drink it in shots, which is bound to be on a wild night out,” Lee says.
In short, it’s not what you drink, it’s how you drink. “The critical factor in the physical and psychological effects you experience when drinking really comes down to how you drink rather than what you drink. Different drinks have different alcohol content and the more alcohol you ingest – and the faster you ingest it – the stronger the effects.”
In the same vein, it’s likely that if you’re a social person, you’ll get more social, and if you’re an aggressive person, you’ll get more aggressive, she says.
The important thing is to always drink in moderation to avoid any major mood swings. “You can reduce the risk of extreme mood changes by drinking slowly, eating food before and while you drink, and spacing alcoholic drinks with water, juice or soft drink.”
Another myth busted: Beer before liquor won’t get you sicker. Again, Lee says, “it’s the amount of alcohol that might get you into trouble rather than mixing different types.”
That being said, Australia’s alcohol guidelines are pretty generous: “no more than four standard drinks on a single occasion.”