Can You Get Addicted To Soda?

There are times that nothing but a sweet, fizzy soda will satisfy. Soda pairs perfectly with burgers and fries, pizza, nachos, and lots of other salty treats. Come to think of it, there's not much that a cold soda doesn't pair well with. And let's not even discuss sodas' renowned ability to settle an upset stomach. Maybe that's why nearly half of us drink it every day (via HuffPost).

But as much as Americans continue their love affair with sweet, carbonated beverages, most of us are aware of the elephant in the room. The sodas we love — which are all basically just sugar water — are bad for us. Drinking too much of them has been associated with a host of negative effects including weight gain, type 2 diabetes, depression, weakened bones, tooth decay, and fatty liver disorder. And yes, it's even addictive.

Sodas contain habit-forming ingredients, like sugar, caffeine, sodium, and artificial sweeteners (via Healthline). We can come to crave these substances, and those cravings, if continued unchecked, can lead to dependency and even addiction. Sal Raichbach, director of clinical services at the Ambrosia Treatment Center in Florida, told Mel Magazine, "Consuming sugary foods and drinks releases dopamine, which is a chemical directly tied to the brain's reward system. When you drink soda, you're engaging those reward pathways, which makes you more likely to reach for a soda next time you're thirsty."

Cutting back on sodas can lead to better health

An addiction is defined as continuing to use a substance, (being unable to limit or quit it), even though it's having a negative effect. For example, not curbing the soda consumption even after you've packed on excess weight, are depressed, and have been diagnosed with pre-diabetes. And, sorry — research shows that diet soda carries as many potential problems as the real-sugar (or corn syrup) varieties. Ironically, diet sodas have even been implicated in weight gain and obesity (via Consumer Health Digest).

If you are concerned about the amount of soda you're drinking, experts recommend two main ways to curb the soda habit: either quitting all at once (cold turkey), or gradually tapering down the amount of soda you drink each day until the cravings subside. You could also replace soda with other beverages like unsweetened soda water, tea, or still water with fruit. 

Like breaking any addiction, expect withdrawal symptoms like headache or grumpiness at first, which should lessen over time. If you find you're unable to manage the withdrawal symptoms well, a healthcare professional may be able to help.