Young people * Healthy living

Don't mix alcohol and energy drinks

Warning over mixing alcohol and energy drinks Caffeine masks effects of alcohol

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can mislead drinkers into thinking they are less drunk than they actually are, a report has warned.

In a briefing paper by Alcohol Concern, the charity warns that the caffeine in energy drinks can mask the effects of alcohol, making drinkers less aware of how drunk they are.

Andrew Misell, of Alcohol Concern, said: “Sales of energy drinks have shot up in the UK in recent years, particularly among young people, but there is a general lack of guidance about the dangers of mixing high-caffeine drinks with alcohol.

“Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics – they cause the body to pass water – so mixing energy drinks with alcohol can leave drinkers badly dehydrated, possibly leading to vomiting, nausea, and other health problems in the long term.

“What’s more dangerous, perhaps, is that the stimulant effect of so much caffeine can mask the depressant effect of the alcohol.

"People drinking energy drinks with alcohol may feel very alert and not realise how drunk they are. One possible result of this is that drinkers will take more risks."

A study in the US found that students who drank alcohol mixed with energy drinks were four times more likely to drive compared with drinkers who had consumed alcoholic drinks alone.

“Many drinkers may be unaware just how much caffeine they’re taking in. A 500ml can of an average energy drink such as Rockstar, Relentless or Monster contains 160mg of caffeine. That’s the equivalent of a double espresso or five cans of Coca-cola," Mr Misell said.

The charity has called on energy drink producers to actively warn drinkers of the possible dangers of mixing their products with alcohol. It also urged bars and clubs to stop promoting energy drinks as mixers for alcohol.

Alcohol Concern Wales’s Drink Wise Wales website has an alcohol and energy drink counter which outlines the amount of alcohol, caffeine and sugar in common energy drink cocktails such as a double vodka and Red Bull, a Jägerbomb (Jägermeister shot with Red Bull), and a TVR (tequila, vodka and Red Bull).

This article was published on Wed 21 September 2011

Image © Monkey Business -

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