Are you one of the legions of women who swill Diet Coke with a Charlie Sheen-like voracity?
You might be a bonafide diet soda addict, experts say.

It's been known for awhile that regular consumption of diet soda has been linked to Type 2 Diabetes, stroke, weight gain and an increased risk of low bone mineral density in women, but it turns out that once you start drinking it Diet Coke regularly it can be very hard to stop.

The caffeine in diet drinks can be a clinical addiction, of course, but guzzling sugar-free drinks can also create a mental dependence on them. Says CNN:

Although diet soda clearly isn't as addictive as a drug like nicotine, experts say the rituals that surround diet soda and the artificial sweeteners it contains can make some people psychologically -- and even physically -- dependent on it in ways that mimic more serious addictions. And unlike sugared soda, which will make you gain weight if you drink too much of it, zero-calorie soda doesn't seem to have an immediate downside that prevents people from overindulging.

---

"Your senses tell you there's something sweet that you're tasting, but your brain tells you, 'Actually, it's not as much of a reward as I expected,'" says Martin P. Paulus, MD, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Diego, and one of the authors of the study. "The consequence might be that the brain says, 'Well, I'll have more of this.'"

Some people consume so much diet soda, the study finds, that they meet the definitions for substance abuse as provided by the APA, like experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit. When women drink diet soda throughout the day, they can also come to associate it with certain activities: one at lunch, one at coffee break, etc. This can become psychologically addicting in the same manner as emotional eating.

Yikes! I used to drink Diet Coke everyday, but since I cut out soda (for the most part) a long time ago, my digestion and skin have improved. Water hydrates you more and doesn't contain chemicals - it's a win-win!

Do you drink diet soda, Lovelies? Do you know anyone who's "addicted"?