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More Bad News for Alcohol-Energy Drinkers

By February 24, 2010

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Combining alcohol with caffeine-containing energy drunks can be a dangerous mix, according to research at the University of Florida. A recent study found that bar-hopping college students who mixed alcohol with energy drinks were more likely to be very intoxicated and more likely to drive while drinking.

Unfortunately, researchers believe as many as 28% of college-age drinkers are mixing alcohol with energy drinks on a regular basis.

Previous research has shown that energy-drinks can mask the effects of alcohol. When caffeine is mixed with alcohol it negates the sedating effects of alcohol, leading drinkers to think they are less intoxicated than they actually are.

"This may lead people to drink more or make uninformed judgments about whether they are safe to drive," said lead researcher Dennis Thombs in a news release.

According to the Florida study, compared to bar patrons who did not use energy drinks, those who mixed alcohol with caffeine were:

  • Three times more likely to be intoxicated.
  • Drank for longer periods of time.
  • Left the bars later at night.
  • Four times more likely to drive while intoxicated.

"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," co-author Bruce Goldberger said. "We know that caffeine aggravates the degree of intoxication, which can lead to risky behaviors."

The study was published in the April 2010 of the journal Addictive Behaviors.

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