Mixing caffeine with alcohol has become popular, as many drinks combining the two are served around the United States. However, some healthcare officials are concerned about the risks involved with mixing the two substances. In 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration gathered information that showed a 10-fold increase in visits to the emergency room involving individuals that mixed alcohol and energy drinks.
Mixing Energy Drinks & Alcohol – the Dangers
High caffeine drinks can have several effects when combined with alcohol. When these substances are mixed, the risk of these items occurring is increased:
- Driving while under the influence
- Becoming physically injured
- Requiring medical attention
- Being the passenger of an intoxicated driver
- Developing alcohol disorders
In one study, it was found that teenagers consuming mixed alcoholic drinks containing energy drinks were 4 times more at risk of developing alcohol use disorders.
Young Drinkers & Their Altered State
There have several studies on the effects of mixing alcohol and drinks with a high amount of caffeine. Some of these studies have shown that this practice is most popular amongst younger individuals and even underages drinkers.
When compared to drinking alcohol by itself, high-caffeine drinks increase binge drinking episodes, impaired driving, alcohol dependence, and impulsive sexual behavior. In college students, energy drinks mixed with alcohol lead to blackouts, alcohol poisoning, and engaging in risky behavior. They may experience:
- Decreased perception of intoxication levels
- Enhanced stimulation
- An increased desire to consume alcohol
The decreased impulse control that alcohol causes, especially when paired when energy drinks, increase the likelihood of unsafe sex that could result in:
- Sexual assault
- STDs and STIs
- Unwanted pregnancy
There is an increased danger when combining alcohol and caffeine, including alcohol-related harm. Mixing alcohol with drinks that contain caffeine may cause users to experience increase alertness and stimulation. Drinking may also keep alcohol-related fatigue from setting in. However, it also causes the desire to drink to increase.
The FDA has prohibited the marketing of pre-mixed energy drinks containing alcohol, citing them as unsafe. Individuals can still mix the drinks themselves, but this is not the wise choice. If you or a loved one has mixed alcohol and caffeine, recognize the health risks that go with it and reduce the behavior to avoid health issues and emergency room visits. If there are any signs of substance abuse, seek help from a professional that can help with the underlying cause of substance abuse disorder.