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Energy Drinks & Alcohol — A Dangerous Combination That Leads to Binge Drinking

drunk guy at bar
Monkey Business

As energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster grow more popular, so does mixing them with alcoholic beverages, especially among teens. Most drinkers think the added caffeine will give them an energy boost while they’re out for the night, but in reality the caffeine is merely masking the effects of the alcohol, which leads to more drinking. It’s likely for this reason that a new study has found a link between energy drinks and binge drinking.

A double-blind study released last week by researchers in Australia looked at 75 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30. They were divided into two groups with one group drinking a couple of ounces of vodka and soda and the other group drinking a couple of ounces of vodka and Red Bull. When asked 20 minutes later, the group that drank the Red Bull had a stronger desire to have more than the group that had vodka and soda.

Study author Rebecca McKetin, of Australian National University’s Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Well-being said, “There’s a lot of data to show that people who drink energy drinks and alcohol end up consuming more alcohol, but we don’t know if it’s a causal link.”

Despite the fact that the study didn’t determine the specific link between energy drinks and alcohol consumption, it did identify a possible reason for the effect. Researchers found that, when combined with alcohol, the energy drinks increased the “priming effect” that just a small amount of alcohol has on someone’s desire to have more.

This means that if you’re inclined to over-consume when alcohol is involved, adding energy drinks will only increase your desire to binge, which puts you at a greater risk for alcohol poisoning, drunk driving and alcohol-related injuries.

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