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Binge drinking: can the news get worse?

Energy drinks mixed with alcohol - for example, Red Bull and vodka - may be popular drinks of choice among teenagers and young adults, but the mix can be dangerous, even lethal.

04 Apr 2010
Energy drinks mixed with alcohol - for example, Red Bull and vodka - may be popular drinks of choice among teenagers and young adults, but the mix can be dangerous, even lethal.

University of Florida researchers found, in a study of college-aged people leaving bars and other drinking premises, that those who drank mixed drinks (ie, 6.5% of those who were sober enough to participate) had a threefold risk of leaving in a highly intoxicated condition and were four times more likely than alcohol-only drinkers to insist on driving home. They also left the bars later at night, drank for longer periods of time and ingested more grains of ethanol.

The data came from interviews about drinking consumption and behaviour with more than 800 randomly selected patrons leaving establishments in a popular college bar area between 10 pm and 3 am. 

The intrepid researchers also did breath tests on the participants, advising them about their intoxication levels and driving risk. They found that the average breath-alcohol reading for those who were on the mixed drinks was 0.109, well above the driving limit for the area of 0.08.

The study shows that the widespread belief is wrong that, if people drink caffeine with alcohol, the stimulant effect of caffeine counteracts the depressant effects of alcohol. In fact, caffeine aggravates the degree of intoxication, leading to risky behaviour as well as really bad hangovers.

The study is to be reported in the April edition of Addictive Behaviors.

 


Published: 04 Apr 2010