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The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Man sitting distraught on windowsill, feeling effects of mixing alcohol and energy drinks

Mixing alcohol and energy drinks has become increasingly popular in recent years, as many people view it as a way to party and socialize longer. However, there are many risks associated with this practice. If you or a loved one is struggling with alcohol use, Vertava Health’s alcohol addiction treatment can help. Call us at 844.470.0410 to learn more about the dangers of mixing energy drinks and alcohol.

What Are Energy Drinks?

An energy drink is a type of beverage that contains high levels of caffeine in combination with other ingredients such as taurine, guarana, sugar, and B vitamins. They are widely promoted as a safe and effective way to boost mental and physical stimulation. Over the last decade, the energy drink market has skyrocketed. Some of the most common brand names in the energy drink community are:

  • Monster
  • Red Bull
  • Rockstar
  • 5-Hour Energy
  • Nos
  • Amp

Each energy drink contains between 40 to 240 mg of caffeine. While they might increase mental alertness for a few hours, energy drinks have also been known to cause irregular heartbeat, anxiety, jitters, increased blood pressure and thickening of the blood.

Effects Of Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks

The spike in the popularity of energy drinks has created a new trend in nightlife: combining energy drinks with alcohol. While the side effects of energy drinks concern enough on their own, mixing highly caffeinated beverages with alcohol makes for a toxic concoction. While alcohol works as a central nervous system depressant, slowing down brain and motor activity, the caffeine and other ingredients in energy drinks work as a stimulant. The stimulant effects of an energy drink will counteract the sedative nature of alcohol, tricking users into feeling more awake and less drunk than they really are. This effect is referred to by researchers as wide-awake drunk. Being wide-awake drunk can be dangerous. Although people may feel more alert due to the caffeine boost from the energy drink, the body is still feeling the effects of alcohol.

People often end up drinking way more than they intended to without realizing that their judgment and coordination are being compromised. Researchers have found that drinking alcohol mixed with an energy drink creates a false sense of security that is responsible for making people four times more likely to want to drive home while intoxicated, as well as three times more likely to participate in binge drinking. Additionally, those who drink a mixture of alcohol and caffeinated beverages put themselves at a higher risk for alcohol poisoning, alcohol overdose, participation in risky behaviors, and caffeine overdose. While it is uncommon, caffeine overdose does happen, and it can be lethal.

Signs of a caffeine overdose are:

  • Jitters, restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Heart palpitations
  • Fever
  • Chest Pain
  • Convulsions
  • Hallucinations
  • Vomiting
  • Trouble breathing

Going above the daily recommended dose of 400 mg of caffeine a day can produce these uncomfortable side effects and is much more likely when consuming energy drinks in combination with alcohol.

Be Smart when Drinking Alcohol and Energy Drinks

While drinking alcohol and energy drinks together is not recommended, this doesn’t stop bartenders from making the combination when requested. For those that do consume energy drinks and alcohol together, the following practices are recommended:

  • Keep track of drinking – The biggest problem with mixing caffeine with alcohol is that it will trick its consumers into thinking they’re sober when they’re actually not. Keeping track of drinking will limit this problem.
  • Check caffeine and other stimulant content before consuming – High amounts of caffeine, sugar, or other stimulants can hurt the brain and body. Double-checking what is inside a drink before consuming it could help avoid uncomfortable side effects.
  • Eat plenty of food – Food will help slow the rate of alcohol absorption and can limit alcohol consumption considerably.

Due to the sheer amount of people who mix energy drinks with alcohol, it can seem harmless to consume these two drinks together. However, combining these alcoholic and energy drinks can come with complicated and unpredictable risks, especially for teens and young adults, which may require alcoholic detox.

Get Help for Alcohol Misuse at Vertava Health

Mixing alcohol with energy drinks is a dangerous practice and can have many adverse effects on the body. If you or someone you know has been misusing alcohol, it is important to seek help from a healthcare professional. Vertava Health offers comprehensive treatment for all types of substance use disorders, including alcohol misuse. Contact us at 844.470.0410 today to learn more.