April 18, 2011

Alcohol + Energy Drinks = A Bad Combo

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- It's one of the latest trends in drinking: mixing alcoholic beverages with energy drinks. Though research on the effects of combining the two is not extensive, a new study shows that choosing vodka and Red Bull over rum and Coke may lead to riskier behavior.

In the study, 56 college students between the ages of 21 and 33 were randomly assigned to one of four groups: one group drank alcohol, one group drank an energy drink, one group drank alcohol mixed with an energy drink, and the last group received a placebo drink. Researchers then observed the participants' behavior using a task that measures how quickly a person can execute and suppress actions after drinking. The participants also reported their feelings of stimulation, sedation, impairment, and level of intoxication.

Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University and first author of the study, was quoted as saying, "Our study was designed to demonstrate that alcohol/energy drinks are pharmacologically distinct from alcohol alone and are adding to the risks of drinking."

While the study showed no difference in the level of impairment of people who drank alcohol/energy drinks compared to those who drank just alcohol, the study did demonstrate an enhanced feeling of stimulation in participants who drank mixed alcohol/energy drink beverages. This suggests drinking alcohol and energy drinks together may heighten the risks associated with drinking.

"We found that an energy drink alters the reaction of alcohol that a drinker experiences when compared to a drinker that consumed alcohol alone"¦," Marczinski said. "The consumer of the alcohol/energy drink felt more stimulated compared to an alcohol-alone consumer. 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."

SOURCE: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, published online April, 2011