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The Dangers Of Mixing Alcohol And Caffeine

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Mixing caffeine and alcohol has become an increasingly popular trend throughout the nation in recent years. Everything from energy drinks to espresso can be found in mixed-drink concoctions. While caffeine may seem like a good pick-me-up during a night of drinking, mixing these two substances can have potentially dangerous consequences.

Can Caffeine On Its Own Be Dangerous?

From coffee to soda to alcohol, Americans have been putting caffeine in their beverages for decades. Luckily, in small quantities, caffeine isn’t considered dangerous. Individuals who are more sensitive to the substance may want to limit their intake; however, drinking moderate amounts of caffeine tends to be relatively safe and a socially accepted way to wake up in the morning and get through the day.

However, like any substance, caffeine does not come without side effects and potential dangers. For some people, caffeine may cause headaches, insomnia, or even health conditions such as high blood pressure. The more caffeine a person consumes, the more likely he or she is to experience adverse side effects of this substance.

Most authorities agree that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day is considered safe for most individuals. The actual caffeine content of beverages and food varies greatly, but around four cups of regularly brewed coffee will equate to 400 milligrams. Exceeding this amount can result in negative effects for some individuals, including muscle tremors and migraines.

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The Side Effects Of Mixing Caffeine And Alcohol

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans cautions against mixing alcohol with caffeine. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration has banned the selling of prepackaged drinks that contain both alcohol and caffeine. This came as a result of the increased rise in hospital visits as a result of ingesting these types of beverages.

Mixing these two substances can put individuals at risk for a number of unwanted side effects. One side effect is the risk of binge drinking. When combined, caffeine masks the depressant nature of alcohol, making individuals feel more alert and “sober.” This may, in turn, lead a person to believe he or she can consume more alcohol. While a person may feel more sober, drinking caffeine with alcohol does not reduce the alcohol content in the body. This means that drinking more alcohol will only increase the risk of alcohol poisoning and blackouts.

Additional side effects that may occur as a result of mixing caffeine and alcohol include:

  • participating in unwanted sex
  • driving while under the influence
  • injury
  • alcohol poisoning
  • impaired judgment
  • dehydration
  • increased heart rate and blood pressure
  • insomnia

While caffeine may make a person feel temporarily more alert while consuming alcohol, it’s risk often far outweighs the benefit of consuming these two substances together. If a person is going to mix alcohol and caffeine, it’s best to avoid over-consumption of alcohol while doing so. This can help prevent adverse side effects and potentially dangerous blood alcohol levels.

Dangerous Symptoms Of Mixing Alcohol And Caffeine

In addition to the side effects discussed above, mixing caffeine and alcohol can potentially cause more dangerous symptoms as well. Two harmful conditions that can occur as a result of mixing these two substances include dehydration and alcohol poisoning.

Because both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics, a person can easily become dehydrating when mixing these drugs. Common symptoms of dehydration to look out for include:

  • dizziness
  • lightheadedness
  • excess thirst
  • dark urine
  • dry mouth

In addition to dehydration, one of the most dangerous potential side effects of mixing caffeine and alcohol is the risk of alcohol poisoning. As mentioned earlier, caffeine can negate feelings of alcohol intoxication. This can make a person believe he or she can consume more alcohol for longer periods of time. Doing so can result in dangerous levels of alcohol in the blood, which can ultimately cause alcohol poisoning.

Common symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • unresponsiveness
  • confusion
  • loss of coordination
  • irregular or slowed breathing
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness or trouble staying awake
  • pale or clammy skin
  • vomiting
  • decreased heart rate

If you believe someone is experiencing alcohol poisoning, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately. If not properly treated, alcohol poisoning can be fatal.

Seeking Treatment For Alcohol Use And Addiction

Mixing caffeine, such as energy drinks and coffee, with alcohol can be harmful. If you find yourself mixing these substances in order to drink more or longer or if you are unable to control your alcohol consumption, substance use treatment may be a good option to consider. Vertava Health has several state-of-the-art facilities that offer personalized alcoholic treatment programs for those looking to overcome alcohol use and addiction.

To learn more about the dangers of mixing alcohol and caffeine, contact an Vertava Health’ treatment specialist today.