A dangerous and even deadly combination.
Combining alcohol and other everyday drinks is nothing new. From soda to tomato juice to lemon juice, there are as many options as there are taste buds. One of the newest combos to hit lips in your town is alcohol and energy drinks.
During the early days of energy drinks, there was some skepticism that they were not safe for regular consumption. As more energy drink companies began promoting their products and regular people began safely drinking them on a regular basis, the public has become less wary. Now, the energy-boosting beverages are treated like ordinary soft drinks. Unfortunately, not handling these caffeinated cans with care can lead to some serious issues. Especially when mixed with alcohol.
A Collegiate Conundrum
College students and college-aged individuals are at the highest risk for chasing energy drinks with alcohol, a phenomenon known as AMED (alcohol mixed with energy drinks). In fact, it has become commonplace for these youngsters to mix energy drinks and alcohol into a caffeinated, alcoholic cocktail. To the drinkers, the mixture seems heaven-sent. The desired alcoholic buzz is achieved, but the energy drink keeps them from growing tired.
What many of these AMED drinkers don’t know is that while they’re not getting tired, the other effects of alcohol remain the same. That means that while downing an energy drink and a beer may leave the drinker wide awake, the alcohol still results in impaired judgment, lapses in social graces, vision problems, and slowed reflexes. And surprisingly, though the caffeine in energy drinks keeps folks drinking longer and stronger, it actually increases intoxication.
When these regular effects of alcohol are ignored and the drinker decides to depend on the energy drink for good judgment and reflexes, the results can be catastrophic. AMED cocktail drinkers are more likely to leave a bar with high levels of alcohol in their system, putting them at risk for serious automobile accidents that result in injury or even death.
During a small study, it was found that people who drank AMED cocktails or who drank energy drinks and alcohol separately consumed more alcohol and drank for longer time periods. But the dangers don’t stop there.
Sipping on an AMED also puts you at increased risk for heart problems. As an energy drink and alcoholic beverage each do different things to your heart (one slows it down, while the other speeds it up), these mixed messages confuse the heart and can result in dangerous heart palpitations. These drinks also increased the likelihood of becoming dangerously dehydrated, as alcohol causes dehydration and caffeine is a diuretic – a.k.a. a dehydration-causing factory.
Still considering chasing a few beers with an energy drink? Remember this: those who drink AMED cocktails are more likely to attempt to take advantage of someone else or be taken advantage of in a sexual manner.
A New Confusing Danger
As if there aren’t enough problems keeping kids away from alcoholic beverages, some companies have made it even more difficult with new marketing techniques. With the energy drink market firmly established, some alcohol companies are marketing their drinks in packaging that is ridiculously close to that used by energy drink products.
The potential result? Underage children buying alcoholic beverages on purpose or on accident, without anyone being alarmed. In order to prevent this from happening on a large scale, businesses that sell both types of drinks will require extensive and ongoing education on all products available to ensure underage juveniles don’t purchase the wrong drink. Parents should also be aware of the differences and be on the lookout for premixed alcohol-energy drink cocktails.