Alcohol and Caffeine

Many of us are aware of the trend in combining energy drinks and alcohol.  In 2010, the Food and Drug Administration announced that alcoholic beverages with caffeine were not properly tested therefore not considered safe for sell in the United States.1 However, the combination of alcohol with caffeinated products including energy drinks continues, resulting in accidents and deaths.

When we evaluate the risk of combining alcohol and energy drinks, we must examine the current research that is available on the subject. In 2012, Marczinki et.al. published the results of a study examining the effects of energy drinks mixed with alcohol on information processing, motor coordination and subjective reports of intoxication.2  Researchers found that the benefits of co-administration of an energy drink may be limited to subjective changes, versus objective benefits of alcohol-induced behavioral impairment. Study participants reported greater subjective stimulation and reduced mental fatigue, which was why they chose those beverages. Also, researchers have found that due to lack of subjective fatigue felt by an individual consuming alcohol and energy drink combinations, individuals continue to drink more than they may have normally without the addition of the energy drink. The researchers also found that consuming alcohol with energy drinks results in an inability to  perform more than one task adequately (i.e. driving, which is a multi-task operation) although the drinker may not perceive impairment. The current study supports previous research by the authors which found the same effects as well as other behavior trends in motivation to consume alcohol with energy drinks.2,3

The importance of education in individuals consuming alcohol, especially those who may embark on riskier drinking is essential. Binge drinking is common in the teen and college-age populations where we see more use of alcoholic beverages mixed with energy drinks and/or caffeinated beverages.

References:  

1. “Update on Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages: FDA Announces Progress on Removal of Certain Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages from the Market”. Food and Drug Administration <http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm234900.htm> Accessed: May 21, 2013

2. “Effects of energy drinks mixed with alcohol on information processing, motor coordination and subjective reports of intoxication.” Exp Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012 Apr ;20(2):129-38. doi: 10.1037/a0026136. Epub 2011 Oct 24 .

3. Alcohol mixed with energy drinks: consumption patterns and motivations for use in U.S. college students. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2011 Aug ;8(8):3232-45. doi: 10.3390/ijerph8083232. Epub 2011 Aug 5 .

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