Alcohol and Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Mix

Mixed drinks have always been a popular way to make a good weekend a great one. Just recently a new mix is getting a lot of attention for its unexpected and dangerous attack on unsuspecting students looking for a good time.

Four Loco

Experts agree that energy drinks and alcohol are a wildly dangerous combination. The majority of time energy drinks are used as a chaser or mixer for hard liquor. However, in the last couple of years there is a new market: premixed alcoholic energy drinks.  These drinks come in 12-20 ounce cans and are most frequently a combination of alcohol, caffeine, ginseng, taurine, and other stimulant substances.

What’s wrong with that? Well, when alcohol, a depressant, is mixed with stimulants- such as caffeine- it creates a toxic combination. Although these mixed drinks usually contain the same amount of alcohol as draft beers and wines, the combination can cause a much more dramatic intoxication that experts have started to call the “wide awake drunk.” Essentially, this means the individual will have the same Blood Alcohol Content, BAC, as they would have without drinking the energy drink, however the stimulants creates a more “sobering” effect. As a result, people tend to believe that they are sober enough to drive a car; in fact, individuals who mix alcohol and energy drinks are four times more likely to drive a car than individuals who did not. In a recent study it was found that college students were twice as likely to require medical attention, ride with an intoxicated driver or be on either side of sexual assault.  In addition to this, average caloric intake for premixed alcoholic energy drinks far exceeds that of its counterparts.  

In general, mixing energy drinks and alcohol is a bad idea. Why? Because the negative side effects of energy drinks and the negative side effects of alcohol are going to interact and hit you at the same time.  This type of intoxication makes the drinker believe that they are much more sober than they really are which sways them to drink more in order to feel the exhilaration of a good “buzz.” This cycle can quickly take a turn for the worst, leading to alcohol poisoning, which is a serious emergency that can contribute to other major health concerns. Energy drinks and alcohol are both diuretics, leading to dehydration, aka a really bad hangover. Also, the combination of the two has shown to make alcohol consumption more addictive.

Alcohol alone has been shown recently to be more dangerous than the more hard core drugs, just because of these kinds of mental impairments.  In a recent study, British experts concluded that alcohol is more dangerous and more damaging as a whole than other illegal drugs, including heroin and crack cocaine. Although alcohol is not considered the most lethal drug, the study stated that the combination of alcohol’s effects, including effects on the human body, environmental damages, economic costs, health care, social services, prisons, etc. are significantly higher than other illicit drugs. Because of alcohol’s consistently wide use, misuse, and abuse it’s important to inform and target high-risks groups who abuse alcohol, and educate them about the serious effects and devastating consequences alcohol has.

Remember, alcohol companies only care about one thing, and it is not your safety! They are marketing products they know will sell. Alcoholic energy drinks are the new sensation in the drinking world, but this doesn’t mean that they are safer than their non-energized counterparts. Keep in mind that alcohol and stimulants NEVER cancel out one another, you are still getting just as, if not more, intoxicated. So please, keep it safe!

Written by: Stephanie Dunbar, Naomi Ingram, Alex Ireland, Margo Valadao - Peer Health Educators

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