Mixing energy drinks and alcohol can have severe, dangerous side effects. Caffeine is a substance that produces minimal effects except for hyperactivity, but when combined with other drugs can prove to be too overstimulating for the heart, brain, and body.
Since 2012, the most popular substance to combine with energy drinks has been alcohol, but research shows that the combination of a depressant drug (alcohol) and a stimulant (energy drink) can be fatal. So while this may be the popular party mixer for young adults, the decision to mix energy drinks and alcohol could spoil the party with a heart attack.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol? Is That Really a Thing?
“My parents never had energy drinks. They don’t get it,” said Nicholas Marsilio, 21, to The Washington Post. “Their energy drinks were coffee at two in the morning. … That’s definitely a generation switch.”
Energy drinks began to really hit the market in the 1990s, with pioneer companies like Red Bull using a Thai recipe to give consumers an extra energy boost. Though the beginning sales were modest, come fifteen years later to today, there are now hundreds of brands of energy drinks sold in grocery markets, vending machines, and even bars.
Ever heard of a Jägerbomb? This classic cocktail once used to be a shot of Jägermeister dropped into a pint of beer, but if you asked college students today, they’d tell you the recipe updated from beer to Red Bull.
And the notion of mixing energy drinks like Monster or 5-hour Energy with alcohol is not a new phenomenon. Because alcohol is a depressant, some folks tend to get sleepy if they drink too much. So, how’s one supposed to spike the party without everyone dozing off before midnight? Energy drinks, of course. Those who like the high-low combo aim to lower their inhibitions to enjoy socializing with others (a side effect from alcohol) while also having the energy to dance the night away and stay up ’til sunrise.
And if you’re still awake at a party, then you’re good enough to keep drinking until you’re not, right?
It’s no surprise that binge drinking rates among adults ages 18 to 25 went through the roof in the past five years as a result of energy drinks and alcohol drinking. The craze even set off specific brands of alcoholic energy drinks–namely Four Loko, Joose, and Tilt–that targeted college-age consumers, like modern-day versions of tobacco advertisements targeting kids none the wiser.
Rates of emergency room visits due to incidents related to alcoholic energy drinks more than doubled over just a five year period, prompting the Food and Drug Administration to put a ban on alcoholic energy drinks.
Studies Show Mixing Alcohol with Caffeine Can Be Fatal
Those who know the tale of Elvis Presley’s fatal demise know that combining depressant and stimulant substances is a toxic, lethal combination, ready to sent a person’s heart in cardiac arrest. And though an energy drink may seem like a harmless caffeinated drink, it’s much more potent than advertised.
An average adult can handle 200 to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. Anything within 500 to 600 milligrams can lead to “caffeine intoxication” for adults, which is normally not fatal but can lead to uncomfortable effects, like increased heart rate, stomach aches, and anxiety.
But for children and adolescents (even so much as to the ages of 20 and 21), more than 200 milligrams of caffeine can be dangerous and even lead to death, which is why most medical professionals advise against giving energy drinks to young adults, even in high school.
Energy drinks can contain anywhere from 2.5 to 35.7 milligrams of caffeine per ounce, and some energy shots can have as much as 170 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. And while the FDA regulates the amount of caffeine allowed in soft drinks (71 milligrams for a 12-ounce can), energy drinks are considered dietary supplements or food products and do not have to obey those guidelines.
Now, combine that with alcohol, and college students are basically speedballing in the clubs.
If a college student goes on a binge drinking mission and uses energy drinks to keep awake, then the student is setting themselves up for double-intoxication. Their heart rate will fight between getting faster or slower; they may go through a panic attack, induce severe vomiting, and potentially overwhelm their body physically to the point of cardiac arrest and death.
Too Much Energy, Not Enough Sense
People who are drunk with too much energy aren’t going to want to slow things down, but drink more. Combining energy drinks and alcohol, to put it simply, is a fast track to alcohol poisoning, black-outs, and experimenting with other lethal substances that may lead to overdose.
People intoxicated from energy drinks and alcohol are more likely to engage in reckless behavior, such as driving while intoxicated. With too much energy brings too much confidence, allowing the drinker to become a danger to themselves.
If not intervened, this behavioral pattern of drinking in excess with energy drinks will only lead to the person getting hurt, harming others, or potentially death. If you notice someone may be taking the party too far by drinking energy drinks and alcohol on an alarming basis, it may be time to seek treatment.
Need Addiction Treatment? Call Us Now
Alcoholic energy drinks are clearly a major danger to those who abuse alcohol, but there are many other substances that are just as dangerous for different reasons. If you or someone you love would like a free consultation in order to find an effective treatment program, call Drug Treatment Center Finder at 855-619-8070. Our recovery specialists and intake coordinators are available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one begin the journey of recovery.