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What You Should Know about Alcohol and Energy Drinks

In bars and at parties, one popular way to mix drinks today is to use energy drinks as a mixer for alcoholic beverages. This creates a drink that is both alcoholic and caffeinated, which has an odd effect on people. These types of drinks are particularly popular amongst young people, due to the amount of energy that they get from the caffeine to offset the effects of alcohol. However, although plenty more research still needs to be done about the effects of carbonated alcoholic beverages, there are several dangers that come with mixing these two substances that anyone who wishes to partake in them should be aware of...

Energy drinks mask alcohol’s effects

The primary reason that many individuals choose to partake in mixing energy drinks with alcohol is that it largely covers up the negative aspects of drinking. Alcohol is naturally a depressant, and can make its users feel tired and deprived of energy (although its inhibition-lessening effects can make users feel like they have more energy, as well). When you add the amount of caffeine that is found in most popular energy drinks, it can offset the depressant nature of alcohol and give its user more renewed energy. However, just because the effects of alcohol are covered up by the use of energy drinks, they are still there and at work, as caffeine does nothing to actually change the rate that the metabolism works through the alcohol in your body.

Mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases alcohol consumption

Because of the ability of mixing energy drinks and alcohol to reduce the depressant effects of alcohol, drinkers who mix these two substances tend to drink a lot more than other drinkers who just drink alcohol alone. This is especially true of younger drinkers, who will feel like they have drunk a lot less than they actually have, and so will continue to drink more to get to a drunken feeling. Because of this, people who mix energy drinks and alcohol are at a greater risk of experiencing alcohol poisoning, since the inhibitors that tell you to stop drinking will be delayed with the introduction of caffeine.

Users are more likely to drive drunk

Because individuals who mix alcohol and energy drinks feel a lot less drunk than they actually are, thanks to the effects of caffeine, it makes them more likely to engage in behavior that they should only do when sober. The most obvious example of this is driving. When an individual can consume 4 units of alcohol and feel completely sober, it makes them far more likely to engage in drunk driving, even though they are still under the effects of alcohol. This behavior is incredibly dangerous, both for the drinker and those around them. For this reason, many communities are starting to require bars and establishments that serve alcohol to post about the effects of caffeinated energy drinks.

Premixed alcoholic energy drinks are already illegal

In the early and mid 2000’s, there was a strong rise in popularity of alcoholic beverages that were already caffeinated. These types of drinks were especially popular amongst younger adults. These particular drinks often contained high amounts of alcohol, sometimes reaching as high as 12%. However, in 2010, the FDA determined that more research needed to be conducted to prove that these beverages were safe for public consumption, and removed them from the market. As of now, no conducive prove has been given to the contrary.

Can lead to other polysubstance abuse

There is a small sort of high that an individual gets from consuming caffeine and alcohol. Being able to mix the effects of one illicit substance with another is an addictive feeling of power that makes it easy to continue to crave, as this article explains. Because of this, many researchers worry that mixing caffeine with alcohol can be a precursor to more extreme examples of this. One of the most common, and egregious, examples of this is when addicts mix cocaine with alcohol, which basically creates a more extreme effect of mixing caffeine and alcohol. This phenomenon is called polysubstance abuse, and it is a very complicated issue in the world of addiction recovery.


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