Alcohol and Energy Drinks

There has been a growing concern about mixing alcohol and energy drinks, which often contain high amounts of the stimulant caffeine. Medical and scientific research suggests that combining alcohol and stimulants such as caffeine may increase the rate of alcohol-related injury and risky behavior. There have been many unfortunate episodes with young people becoming hospitalized and nearly dying after combining energy drinks with alcohol. As a result, a ban was passed on alcohol energy drinks in Washington State in November, 2010.

When a person has consumed too much alcohol, they will naturally feel fatigued since alcohol is a depressant. Stimulant drinks can mask this natural response and the drinker may not know how impaired they really are. This can be especially dangerous in combination with other activities such as driving. People who use alcohol and stimulants together are likely to drink more before feeling the effects of alcohol. Sadly, young people are not only the group that is most adversely affected by and most often abusing the alcohol-caffeine combination; they are also the target demographic for companies that sell alcohol energy drinks.

The many energy drink products that are now banned in Washington State include Four Loko; a 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko, which is 12% alcohol, is comparable to drinking five or six beers. Other problems can result from combining alcohol and caffeine. According to the National Institutes of Health, caffeine can boost heart rate and blood pressure, causing heart palpitations; mixing it with alcohol may make heart rhythm problems worse. Also, both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, meaning each dehydrate the body. Thus, consuming caffeine with alcohol does not curtail a hangover. Despite the misconception, caffeine actually INTENSIFIES hangovers because it increases dehydration. In contrast, other mixers will keep the body hydrated which will decrease the negative effects of alcohol.