April 19, 2011
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky.Mixing energy drinks with alcohol may be more hazardous than consuming alcohol alone, according to a new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
Researchers at Northern Kentucky University compared the effects of alcohol alone versus alcohol mixed with an energy drink on a cognitive task, as well as participants' reports of feelings of intoxication.
They randomly assigned 56 college student participants (28 men, 28 women), between the ages of 21 and 33, to one of four groups that received four different doses: 0.65 g/kg alcohol, 3.57 ml/kg energy drink, energy drink/alcohol, or a placebo beverage. The participants' behavior was measured on a task that measures how quickly one can execute and suppress actions following the dose. Participants also rated how they felt, including feelings of stimulation, sedation, impairment and levels of intoxication.
They found that an energy drink alters the reaction to alcohol that a drinker experiences when compared to a drinker that consumed alcohol alone. A consumer of alcohol, with or without the energy drink, acts impulsively compared to when they had not consumed alcohol; however, the consumer of the alcohol/energy drink felt more stimulated compared to an alcohol-alone consumer. Therefore, consumption of an energy drink combined with alcohol sets up a risky scenario for the drinker due to this enhanced feeling of stimulation and high impulsivity levels.
"Young people are now drinking alcohol in different ways than they have in the past," said Cecile A. Marczinski, assistant professor of psychology at Northern Kentucky University and first author of the study. "Classic mixed drinks such as rum and coke have been replaced with mixed drinks that use energy drinks instead, such as Jagerbombs and Red Bull and vodka."
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