Alcohol Mixed Energy Drinks Pose Dangers

Energy drinks shot of caffeine when mixed with alcohol poses more dangerous than drinking alcohol alone according to a new study from researchers at Northern Kentucky University.

Research has been growing on the effects of the popular drinks consisting of energy drinks and alcohol such as mixing Red Bull with vodka.

Researchers from the university had divided 56 college students into four groups, age range 21 to 33 years old. Students were given one of the four: alcohol drink, energy drink, a mix of both or a placebo.

Researchers had made all drinks to appear and taste just like alcohol added energy drinks, this made it impossible for the students to know which drink they really were consuming. Researchers took measurements on how rapidly students could carry out and stop actions after the drink. Students were asked to rate feelings such as sedation, stimulation, impairment and level of intoxication.

The findings had shown that all the students who had consumed alcohol had impaired impulse control. Among the students who had consumed the alcohol energy drinks viewed themselves to be less impaired in comparison to students who consumed just alcohol. Researchers stated that those who felt less impaired were more apt to take risks like driving while intoxicated.

Dr. Cecile Marczinski, PhD, assistant professor department of psychological science and author of study, states that the study demonstrates that these types of drinks are different and people should be aware of them. Dr. Marczinski further notes it may be relevant to put warning labels on energy drinks that they should not be mixed with alcohol.

The mixing of alcohol with caffeine is nothing new such as the familiar rum and coke. Dr. Marczinski notes that energy drinks have around three times the amount of caffeine than coke making them more stimulating.

Past surveys conducted have suggested that 30 to 50% of teenagers and young adults consume energy drinks that contain stimulants such as guarana, a stimulant which contains four to eight percent more caffeine than coffee beans.

In November of 2010, the FDA placed a ban on ready made alcoholic beverages with added caffeine.

However, preparing and serving alcoholic drinks with caffeine is legal at bars, parties and elsewhere.

Dr. Marczinski remarks that the stimulation from alcoholic caffeinated drinks offsets the sedative effects from the alcohol. This causing many drinkers to feel as if the alcohol is not effecting them as they are by just alcohol. Energy drinks do not change the level of behavioral impairment only how it is viewed.

What concerns Dr. Marczinski the most is impaired driving. Usually, many people do not have good judgment when they just drink alcohol. It is when they feel sleepy that alerts them to the fact it is time to go home. Due to the perception of effects from the energy drinks it could make the whole party experience last longer that what it actually should be.

Both Dr. Marczinski and other researchers do mention that further studies are required to determine if they energy drink cocktails are causing the rise in risky drinking practices among young adults who have already shown high levels of binge drinking.

Dr. Bruce Goldberger,PhD, director of toxicology at the University of Florida College of Medicine, states that his research in this area shows that persons who drink are more apt to drive if they drink energy drinks with alcohol. There have been other studies which have demonstrated increased risk for violence, unprotected sex and sexual assault among those who consume energy alcohol combination drinks.

The view is if you drink caffeine you will sober up. Dr. Goldberger notes this is not exactly true. The fact is that the effects of caffeine works on one region of the brain and alcohol the other, they do not cancel each other out. It is referred to as the common term “wide awake drunk”.

If you feel as if you need an energy boost there are natural energy drinks in which you can make. There are also natural energy drinks which can be purchased at places such as GNC. One product called FRS® Healthy Energy® looks like your typical energy drink but does not rely on immense amounts of sugar and caffeine. It contains an antioxidant called Quercetin, which is a patented blend of vitamins and green tea extract.

Sources:

Business Week

Times of India

Healthy Energy