The study by researchers, Rebecca McKetin and Alice Coen, blind-tested people’s thirst and desire to drink more of two different drinks. The first was a mix of vodka, fruit juice and soda while the second drink was vodka with Red Bull, one of the many caffeinated pre-mixers on the market.
The results proved caffeinated drinks cause an increased desire for more alcohol because of the stimulant effects of caffeine. In other words, those who consumed the energy drinks wanted to physically and psychologically drink more alcohol than those who didn’t.
In an email to Reuters McKetin said,
“We normally think of alcohol as a depressant, but it also has a stimulant effect, and it is this stimulant effect that is most strongly related to how much we like alcohol, and whether we want to keep drinking…Energy drinks contain caffeine. Caffeine, being a stimulant, tends to bring out the stimulant effects of alcohol intoxication. It may be this that causes energy drinks to increase the desire to keep drinking alcohol.”
To many, the results of the study will seem logical. The thirstier you feel, the more you drink and conversely, the more fun you have, the more you drink. Unfortunately this cycle of consumption tends to veer into a downward spiral. When a woman reaches just four standard drinks in one sitting (and five for a man) they’re officially classified as binge drinkers, and they become vulnerable to more than just a hangover.
Binge drinking causes impaired judgment, which can translate into a whole list of negative consequences. Binge drinkers have an increased chance of getting hurt in car accidents, being abused physically or sexually, having a one night stand or being the victim of petty crime. And this is before you add the energy drink into the equation.
The CD warns that, “drinkers who consume alcohol with energy drinks are twice as likely as drinkers who do not, to report being taken advantage of sexually, to report taking advantage of someone else sexually, and to report riding with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.”
Ultimately McKetin and Coen’s research may open the eyes of regulatory bodies who could restrict caffeinated drink sales. But it may be just as effective as waking up the 34% of the population who enjoy them.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Dorausch)