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The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks

The FDA has issued strict warnings against caffeinated alcohol drinks; mixing alcohol and energy drinks can lead to "wide-awake drunkenness".The FDA has issued strict warnings against mixing alcohol and energy drinks, which they believe pose significant health and safety risks to consumers. These drinks, which are often consumed by young and inexperienced drinkers, have been labeled a public health concern with caffeine being an “unsafe food additive” to malt alcoholic drinks.

A major concern is that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to “wide-awake drunkenness,” and caffeine masks markers of alcohol intoxication, but does not actually decrease alcohol-related impairment. This results in an individual feeling less drunk than her or she really is, and may lead them to continue to consume alcohol and/or engage in risky activities, such as driving. Another concern is the contents of energy drinks, including amount of caffeine, are often not regulated, further adding to unforeseen risks of mixing them with alcohol.

Most alarming are studies that have found energy drink and alcohol consumption to be most common among teens and college students and is strongly linked with increased risks for heavy drinking and alcohol dependence. New research shows that individuals who have a high frequency of consuming energy drinks and alcohol (52 or more times a year) were more likely to have episodes of heavy drinking and a significant higher risk for alcohol dependence.

The study analyzed data from 1,000 university students that focused on their consumption of energy drinks and alcohol drinking behaviors within a twelve month period. The results, published in the February 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, found that individuals who consumed energy drinks and alcohol at a high frequency were more likely to: “get drunk at an earlier age, drink more per drinking session, and were more likely to develop alcohol dependence compared to both non-users of energy drinks and the low-frequency users.” (Medical New Today)

Aside from cautioning against the mixing of alcohol and energy drinks, many stress that it’s important to educate and debunk perpetuating myths, such as: mixing alcohol and caffeine reduces intoxication or drunkenness, prevents hangovers, or fools breathalyzer tests. All of which are false.

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