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February 14, 2010

Energy Drinks + Alcohol = Dangerous Cocktail !!

Mixing Booze With Energy Drinks Triples Risk of Getting Drunk
College-age drinkers who swill alcoholic energy-drink cocktails 're three times more likely than alcohol-only drinkers to leave a bar drunk. What's more, those imbibing energy cocktails 're four times more likely to attempt drunken driving, find University of Florida researchers Dennis Thombs, PhD, & colleagues.

"Combining energy drinks & alcohol can trick the brain, making people think they're sober - or sober enough - when they're not," said Thombs. As many as 28% of college drinkers drink alcohol mixed with energy drinks in a typical month, Thombs & colleagues note.

Between 10 p.m. & 3 a.m., Thombs' team interviewed 800 patrons leaving bars in a college partying area. They asked bout their drinking & 'bout whether they intended to drive. Then they checked their breath alcohol concentration levels.
The results 're sobering: 
  • 6.5% had drunk alcohol-energy drink combos.
  • 6.6% had drunk energy drinks & alcohol, but not mixed together.
  • 86% had drunk alcohol only.
  • The average breath alcohol reading for those who drank energy cocktails was 0.109, higher than the legal driving limit of 0.08. The average breath alcohol concentration for those who had alcohol only was 0.081.
  • Those who combined alcohol and energy drinks drank for longer periods of time.
  • Patrons drinking energy cocktails left bars later than those who drank alcohol only.
"Often, students drink energy drinks because they 're tired & don't start until late & want to 've enough energy.They drink these before they go out. Then there's a group that combines alcohol & energy drinks; the most common is Red Bull & vodka," said Thombs. 

The phenomenon is so common that researchers have coined an acronym for it: AMED, for alcohol-mixed-with-energy-drinks. Study researcher Bruce Goldberger, PhD, director of toxicology at the University of Florida, says consumers of energy drinks may drink more & misjudge their capabilities because caffeine reduces drowsiness felt by more intoxicated people. This condition is often described as "wide awake & drunk," said Goldberger. 

People often think the stimulant effect of caffeine counteracts the depressant effect of alcohol, but that's not true. Stimulants actually aggravate intoxication. The study notes that the market for high-caffeine-content energy drinks has grown exponentially since the introduction of Red Bull in 1997. Many such energy drinks 're now on the market.

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