Alcoholic Energy Drinks – What’s the Big Deal?

More and more often, we are hearing about people consuming alcoholic energy drinks or mixing alcohol with energy drinks when they are going out drinking. This seems to be something that college-aged kids are doing more than other age groups.

One of the most popular drinks at bars is Red Bull energy drink mixed with vodka. Not only is this a very popular drink at bars, but people also buy energy drinks such as Red Bull as their drink of choice to mix with alcohol at home or at parties.

One of the other big phenomena of the past year or so is the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. Four Loko is an energy drink that already contains alcohol. It’s pretty clear why this drink became so popular – it’s basically a Red Bull and vodka, but with a lot more alcohol in it.

What’s the appeal of energy drinks and alcohol?

When mixing alcohol and energy drinks, people think the combination is going to make them be able to stay up longer and drink more. They believe they will be able to maintain the good feeling that drinking gives them without getting tired quickly after drinking. People really believe that mixing alcohol with caffeine/energy drinks is going to make them have more fun in general. In some ways, this is probably true.

So What’s the Problem with Alcoholic Energy Drinks?

The problem with alcohol and caffeine is that the effects of the alcohol are masked by the caffeine. People have started calling Four Loko ‘legalized liquid cocaine.’ When a person mixes drugs such as cocaine with alcohol, there is the same effect as if they were mixing an energy drink with alcohol. You become completely unaware of how much you are drinking and cannot judge how much you can drink and still be safe.

This can result in someone drinking much more than they intended. When this happens, people tend to engage in riskier behaviors and are more prone to alcohol related accidents and deaths. There was a study done at Wake Forest that showed that students who drink alcohol combined with energy drinks are more likely to sustain injuries related to drinking than are students who drink alcohol alone.

Other Risks Associated with Alcoholic Energy Drinks

Another problem with alcohol and caffeine is an increased risk of alcohol poisoning. This becomes an even bigger concern when people are drinking alcohol and energy drinks, instead of just alcohol. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, causing the body to become even more dehydrated than when someone is drinking just alcohol. This can be very harmful to a person’s body and will make them feel much sicker in the morning.

Caffeine is also a stimulant, and alcohol is a depressant. Mixing any kind of upper with a downer can be very dangerous. The caffeine will raise your blood pressure and heart rate, while the alcohol is trying to do the opposite. This can cause heart problems and can confuse your nervous system.

Legal Issues Concerning the Manufacture of Alcohol and Energy Drink Combinations

Bottom line, mixing alcohol and energy drinks of any kind, whether it’s Red Bull and vodka, or Four Loko, which already has alcohol mixed in, is extremely dangerous.

If you are having a hard time believing the dangers of this concoction, take into account the fact that Four Loko has been banned in many states and on many college campuses. Not only has it been banned, but the creators of the drink have actually agreed to pull it off the shelves in a lot of stores.

On November 17, 2011, the FDA issued a warning letter to four manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks. The letter warned that caffeine is an unsafe food additive when added to their alcoholic drinks. It stated that alcoholic energy drinks are a public health concern and cannot be allowed to remain for sale.

Protect Yourself by Avoiding This Combination

Unfortunately, even if alcoholic beverage companies aren’t allowed to manufacture alcoholic energy drinks, it is still possible to order Red Bull and alcohol at a bar or mix them together at home or at a party. The combination is dangerous.

If you or someone you know is thinking of combining energy drinks and alcohol, please think twice. Keep in mind the negative consequences that can come with this combination. If you have a problem with alcohol and you also add caffeine into the mixture, your problem can become even more serious. Don’t hesitate to call for help if you get into a dangerous or harmful situation. 

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