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Drinking Habits

What Are the Effects of Drinking Vodka Every Day?

August 11, 2023
16 min read
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Reframe Content Team
A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
August 11, 2023
16 min read
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
August 11, 2023
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
August 11, 2023
16 min read
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Reframe Content Team
August 11, 2023
16 min read

There's something enigmatic about vodka — transparent, seemingly innocent, and often considered the “cleanest” among its alcoholic peers. But as they say, appearances can be deceiving. What's actually happening inside our brain and body when we drink vodka on a daily basis? How much vodka is too much? 

If you’ve ever found yourself wondering about this daily habit, it’s time to take a closer look. 

How Much Alcohol Is in Vodka?

Vodka is a staple in many cocktails and a popular choice for those who enjoy an on-the-rocks drink. This form of alcohol is known for its high alcohol content. But exactly how much alcohol is in this clear spirit?

Alcohol by Volume (ABV)

Vodka's strength is typically measured in terms of its alcohol by volume (ABV). In the United States, to be classified as vodka, the spirit must have an ABV of at least 40%. This means that 40% of the volume of the liquid is pure ethanol, and the remaining 60% is water. 

However, vodka can range from 40% to 50% ABV or even higher in some cases, so always check the label of the specific brand or bottle you're consuming.

In general, the higher the ABV, the more pronounced the effects of the beverage will be on our brain and body. Since vodka’s ABV is quite, high it has a more pronounced effect when consumed to excess than beverages with a lower ABV.

How Much Vodka Is in a Fifth?

A "fifth" refers to a fifth of a gallon, which is equivalent to 750 milliliters (ml). So, if we have a fifth of vodka that's 40% ABV, it contains 300ml of pure alcohol. For a vodka variant with a higher ABV, say 50%, a fifth would contain 375ml of pure alcohol. 

Drinking this much alcohol is incredibly dangerous. Not only does it indicate alcohol misuse, but it can also result in alcohol poisoning and other medical issues. 

How Much Alcohol Is in a Shot?

When people consume alcohol, they often do so by taking shots

The standard shot size in the U.S. is 1.5 ounces (oz), or approximately 44 milliliters (ml). When we pour one shot of 40% ABV vodka, we’re consuming 17.6ml of pure alcohol. If the vodka's ABV is 50%, then one shot would contain 22ml of pure alcohol.

A shot introduces a high concentration of alcohol into our bloodstream super quickly. Given how common it is to take two, three, four, or more shots, the amount can quickly catch up to us and lead to blackouts and alcohol poisoning. 

How Does Drinking Vodka Every Day Impact the Brain?

Drinking vodka, or any alcoholic beverage, interferes with neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are messengers that help our brain cells communicate, and vodka dampens their activity, leading to slow reaction times and poor judgment. 

Like other forms of alcohol, vodka increases the effects of a calming neurotransmitter called GABA. With extra GABA activity — stimulated by vodka — the brain slows down more than it naturally would, leading to feelings of relaxation and drowsiness.

However, the story doesn't stop there. Vodka also reduces the excitatory neurotransmitter activity of glutamate, which can dull our cognitive abilities. This reduction impacts our ability to form memories, leading to the dreaded memory gaps the morning after.

While the above effects are seen with most forms of alcohol, vodka's high purity and quick absorption rate makes its impact more pronounced. Due to its minimal impurities and high ethanol content, vodka can enter the bloodstream rapidly, leading to faster intoxication. The brain doesn't get much time to adjust, leading to swift mood changes, decreased inhibitions, and impaired judgment.

How Does Drinking Vodka Every Day Impact the Liver?

Our liver is responsible for processing the alcohol we drink. During alcohol metabolism, the liver produces acetaldehyde, a toxic enzyme that can lead to liver damage over time.

Prolonged alcohol use may result in conditions such as fatty liver disease and cirrhosis. If we don’t change our drinking habits, these conditions can later result in liver failure. 

How Does Drinking Vodka Every Day Impact Sleep?

Restorative sleep often remains elusive after drinking too much vodka. 

Vodka, given its high purity and rapid absorption into the bloodstream, can lead to a swift onset of drowsiness. The body metabolizes it quickly, allowing the depressive effects of alcohol to hit harder and faster. This might make us think we’re getting a good night's rest, but a closer look at the sleep cycle says otherwise.

Vodka interferes with our rapid eye movement (REM) sleep — the most restorative phase of the sleep cycle. While other drinks might also disturb REM sleep, vodka’s fast-acting nature means our REM cycle gets disrupted almost immediately after we fall asleep, often leading to a fragmented, restless night.

Moreover, as the night progresses and vodka’s sedative effects wear off, we might experience a rebound effect. This is when the body, in an attempt to balance things out, shifts to lighter sleep stages or even fully wakes us up, making the second half of our night more restless.

Another vodka-specific factor? Due to alcohol’s diuretic properties (and vodka’s minimal additives compared to other drinks), we might head to the bathroom more often, causing further disruption of our sleep.

Harmful effects of daily vodka consumption

How Does Drinking Alcohol Every Day Affect Weight?

If we’re watching our waistline, vodka might not be our best companion. It's packed with hidden calories, and they can really add up! 

At its core, vodka is primarily composed of water and ethanol, which has about 7 calories per gram. It's worth noting that nutritionists refer to the calories in alcohol as “empty” calories, because they offer no nutritional value in terms of vitamins or minerals.

A standard shot of vodka (1.5 ounces, or 44 milliliters) has roughly 96 calories. That's before we even consider mixers! Add a sugary soda or juice, and we’re not just adding flavor — the calorie count quickly skyrockets. For instance, a typical vodka tonic could set us back around 200 calories, and that's just for one drink.

How Does Drinking Vodka Every Day Affect Relationships?

A daily vodka habit can also affect our personal relationships and emotional well-being. 

Given vodka’s high purity and the fact that it’s typically consumed in shots or strong cocktails, its effects show up rapidly. This means we might go from feeling perfectly lucid to uninhibited in a short span. For some, this rapid shift can lead to oversharing, getting overly emotional, or making impulsive decisions. 

Vodka can also amplify emotions. Ever noticed that after a few vodka cocktails, the world seems either excessively rosy or gloomy? Due to vodka's fast absorption, this emotional roller-coaster might feel more intense and abrupt.

That vodka-fueled feeling of lowered inhibitions might lead to actions we later regret. It could be something as simple as a text we wish we hadn't sent or a confrontation we’d have typically avoided. While the immediate effects of vodka might make us feel more confident or open, it's essential to remember that the line between being carefree and careless can become blurred.

Steps for Quitting or Cutting Back 

How can we steer clear of all these negative effects of drinking too much vodka?

  • Educate yourself and stay updated. Knowledge is power! Continue to learn about the effects of alcohol on the body. Try committing to reading one research article or blog about the effects of alcohol on the body each week. Staying informed strengthens your resolve.
  • Set clear goals and find support. Decide whether you want to cut back on alcohol or quit altogether, and write down your goals. Tell others about your plans — whether it's friends, family, or a support group, having people on your side can make the journey smoother.
  • Mocktail magic. Get creative in your kitchen by crafting mocktails. Find ingredients that satisfy your taste buds — think fresh herbs, sparkling water, exotic fruits, or even a dash of chili! A bonus? You get to be the mixologist, concocting colorful and refreshing drinks without the side effects of alcohol.
  • Replace the habit by exploring new things. Find a healthy alternative like a new hobby or social activity. Often, we drink out of habit. The next time you think of reaching for that vodka bottle, swap it out with a new experience. Maybe it's a 10-minute dance break, a quick meditation session, or even picking up a new hobby like knitting or digital art. 
  • Attend alcohol-free events. Many cities now host alcohol-free evenings, from dance parties to mixers. Dive in! You'll get to socialize, enjoy the ambience, and remember every bit of your night.
  • Self-care Sundays. Designate one day a week (it doesn’t have to be a Sunday) when you indulge in self-care minus the vodka. This could be a long bath with essential oils, a hike in a state park, a movie marathon, or diving into a new book.
  • Track your progress. Keep a journal or use an app like Reframe to monitor your progress and celebrate victories, big and small. Note down times when you crave a drink, your emotions at that moment, and what triggered the craving. Over time, patterns will emerge, helping you address the root causes and not just the symptoms.
  • Consult a professional if needed. If the journey becomes too challenging, don't hesitate to seek professional help.

Drinking Vodka Every Day: The Takeaways

By understanding what happens when we invite vodka into our daily life, we can make informed decisions that support our health and happiness. Building a balanced life is all about making choices that resonate with us, one day at a time. Just as a daily vodka habit can mean trouble in the future, making consistent daily changes will add up to massive results. And remember, we're here to help you every step of the way! 

Ready To Leave Vodka Behind? Reframe Can Help!

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet hundreds of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol.

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today!

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At Reframe, we do science, not stigma. We base our articles on the latest peer-reviewed research in psychology, neuroscience, and behavioral science. We follow the Reframe Content Creation Guidelines, to ensure that we share accurate and actionable information with our readers. This aids them in making informed decisions on their wellness journey.
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