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EnergyDrinkEnergy drinks and alcohol

Recently, studies have shown that combining energy drinks and alcohol can be more dangerous than just drinking alcohol alone – especially if the energy drink contains caffeine. Researchers at HealthDay say the recent findings suggest that it may even be appropriate to put warning labels on energy drinks saying they should not be mixed with alcohol.

The mixing of energy drinks and alcohol has become trendy but few realize the serious risks. Results of a recent laboratory study appeared in the July 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.  In this study, measures of intoxication due to alcohol alone versus alcohol/energy drink intoxication were compared.  It was found that the combination of the energy drinks and alcohol enhanced feelings of stimulation in participants. However, it was also noted that the mixing of energy drinks and alcohol did not change the level of impairment for impulsive behavior. These findings of the study suggest that energy drinks combined with alcohol may increase the risks associated with drinking.

Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University and first author of the afore mentioned study indicates that, “young people are now drinking alcohol in different ways than they have in the past.  Classic mixed drinks such as rum and coke have been replaced with mixed drinks that use energy drinks instead, such as yagerbombs and Red Bull and vodka.”

The study reports findings that indicate that energy drinks alter the reaction to alcohol that a drinker experiences when compared to a drinker that consumed alcohol alone (Marczinski, 2011).   Impulsivity is the main concern when energy drinks and alcohol are mixed.  The study points out that when an individual consumes alcohol alone their behavior is less impulsive than when they consume energy drinks and alcohol together.  Marczinski concludes, “therefore, consumption of an energy drink combined with alcohol sets up a risky scenario for the drinker due to this enhanced feeling of stimulation and high impulsivity levels.”

It should be noted for college students (the main demographic for alcohol and energy drink abuse) that the mixture of the two is riskier than drinking either beverage alone.  Further, it is very important to note that for patients seeking treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, their clinicians should try to steer them away from beverages labeled as energy drinks.

Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research (ACER) “Effects of Energy drinks Mixed with Alcohol on Behavioral Control: Risks for College Students Consuming Trendy Cocktails,” Mark T. Fillmore (University of Kentucky) and Mark E. Bardgett & Meagan A. Howard (Northern Kentucky University).

HealthDay.com & drugfree.org