Energy-Drink Cocktails Increase Alcohol Consumption

Posted on October 31st, 2014
Posted in Alcohol Abuse

A popular trend in recent years has been the combining of alcohol with energy drinks. Substance abuse experts are concerned about this because they believe that the stimulant in the cocktails may increase the consumer’s energy level, but it doesn’t aid in their reaction times or level of impulsiveness. Alcohol consumption also lowers a person’s inhibitions, and energy drinks may only feed the desire to act in ways that aren’t normal for the person.

For college students, the alcohol and energy drink cocktail may seem logical. They may anticipate the best of both worlds when they combine their favorite energy boost with their favorite brand of stress relief in the form of an alcoholic cocktail.

A recent study published in July 2014 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows that energy drinks may only serve to increase alcohol consumption. The findings demonstrate that adding an energy drink to an alcoholic beverage may lead to a person wanting to drink more.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Australian National University, recruited 75 participants to drink alcohol or an alcohol and energy-drink cocktail. The participants were all between the ages of 18 and 30.

The participants who drank the combination were given 60 ml of vodka and a Red Bull energy drink, while the other participants were given vodka and soda. All of the drinks were enhanced with a fruity beverage to make them more palatable. The participants were asked to record their experience via a questionnaire before and after the alcohol consumption.

The questionnaire included the Alcohol Urge Questionnaire, given both before and after the consumption. After the consumption, the participants were also given the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Questionnaire, the Drug Effects Questionnaire, and a breath alcohol concentration test.

Alcohol and Energy-Drink Combo Causes Stronger Urge to Continue Drinking

Those given the alcohol and energy-drink combination experienced a stronger inclination to continue drinking when compared with the alcohol-only group. The researchers found that while the participants in the study all consumed the same amount of alcohol, the desire to continue drinking was consistent among those who drank the combination of alcohol and energy drink.

Those in the alcohol and energy-drink combination group had a lower breath alcohol concentration, and there were no significant differences between the two groups in reports of feeling high, stimulation, or sedation.

The findings may be cause for some concern. It’s generally more challenging to cut off alcohol consumption as more alcohol is consumed. An ingredient that enhances a person’s desire to keep drinking could lead to increased instances of binge drinking, an already common occurrence and health issue on college campuses. The study findings encourage caution in adding energy drinks to alcohol.

More research is needed, however, to understand whether this effect indeed leads to more alcohol consumption. Future studies must be conducted in a larger participant groups to clearly demonstrate if energy drinks encourage higher levels of alcohol consumption.

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