Alcohol And Energy Drinks Make Dangerous Cocktails
Apparently the new trend in high(er) education is to combine alcohol with highly-caffeinated energy drinks. Oh well.
But those in the University of Florida's (UF) College of Public Health and Health Professions took an interest in studying the actual effects of this trend.
“Previous laboratory research suggests that when caffeine is mixed with alcohol it overcomes the sedating effects of alcohol and people may perceive that they are less intoxicated than they really are,” said the study’s lead researcher Dennis Thombs. “This may lead people to drink more or make uninformed judgments about whether they are safe to drive.”
So researches at UF conducted some very interesting exit interviews of bar patrons to estimate the danger these mixed drinks might have in an actual drinking environment. In 2008, they interviewed more than 800 randomly selected patrons exiting bars in the vicinity of UF and collected information about their drink consumption, drinking behavior, drinking history, and their intention to drive that night. In addition, participants submitted to breathalyzer tests to determine their blood alcohol levels. Then, they were told their intoxication levels and were advised on their risks related to driving.
What the researchers found might surprise you, especially if you mix your Red Bull and vodka.
Bar patrons who reported mixing alcohol with energy drinks comprised 6.5 percent of study participants. They were three times more likely to be intoxicated than the alcohol-only drinkers, averaging 0.109 blood alcohol levels, when the legal limit is 0.08. The "energy drink cocktail" drinkers left the bars later at night, drank for longer periods of time, ingested more grams of ethanol, and were four times more likely to say they were going to drive within an hour of leaving the bar than alcohol-only patrons.
Those who mix caffeine and alcohol experience what they call "wide awake and drunk," explains Bruce Goldberger, professor of toxicology at the UF School of Medicine.
“There’s a very common misconception that if you drink caffeine with an alcoholic beverage the stimulant effect of the caffeine counteracts the depressant effect of the alcohol and that is not true,” Goldberger said. “We know that caffeine aggravates the degree of intoxication, which can lead to risky behaviors.”
So now we have more to watch out for on the road.