After a few alcoholic drinks most people feel tired and somewhat out of it whereas caffeine wakes you up and makes you feel alert. So why not mix them? There are actually several reasons why you shouldn’t. While more research needs to be done, the fact is that combining caffeine and alcohol can have dangerous consequences.
The combination of alcohol and caffeine is something that has not been studied heavily simply because it is too dangerous of a combination to experiment on humans. The research that has been done on the combination though has found that it is more dangerous than beneficial.
One study was conducted in 2008 by researchers at the University of Florida in which they simply interviewed college-age adults who were leaving a bar. From their findings, they determined that those who reported drinking alcohol mixed with caffeine, specifically alcohol with energy drinks, made up 6.5 percent of the study’s participants. These individuals were three times more likely to be intoxicated and had an average breath-alcohol concentration of 0.109 which is well above the legal driving limit of 0.08. They were also found to leave the bar later at night, consumed more grams of ethanol and were four times more likely to get behind the wheel within the hour.
Another study took place between spring 2009 and fall 2010 and was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. Researchers asked 744 Penn State University students to complete surveys for each of their seven semesters along with daily surveys in which they were asked about their energy drink consumption both with and without alcohol, the number of alcoholic drinks they had the day before and what time they started and stopped drinking. Researchers also factored in gender, body weight and the length of drinking time to calculate blood alcohol levels. The results were that the students who combined energy drinks and alcohol actually drank more and spent more time drinking. This led to higher blood alcohol levels though the caffeine prevented these students from feeling as drunk as they actually were.
The problem of caffeine and alcohol
The real danger of combining alcohol is highlighted in these studies. They both point to the fact that mixing alcohol and caffeine causes drinkers to feel less intoxicated, prompting them to drink for longer periods of time and consequentially ingesting more alcohol. As if the inclination to drink more for a longer period of time weren’t a big enough issue, try looking at the drinks that combine alcohol and caffeine in a convenient can.
Four Loko and Joose are two well known names of caffeinated-alcoholic drinks. The average 12 ounce serving of Coke boasts 34 milligrams of caffeine whereas a Four Loko provides the consumer with 260 milligrams per can. This is on top of the average of five to six beers worth of alcohol that come in each can. This has the potential to produce some intoxicated, albeit overly alert individuals who can’t even tell they are drunk. Combining Jagermeister and Red Bull isn’t even as powerful of a combination as one of these canned drinks.
The combination of the high doses of caffeine and alcohol can give the body and brain a rough ride, especially if the caffeine makes drinkers feel as if they aren’t intoxicated so they drink far beyond their body’s alcohol limit. When the intoxication does fully hit however, the physiological ramifications can be catastrophic.
If more research is done on this dangerous combination, it will have to be done very carefully. However, until that time, it would be a good idea for people to avoid mixing caffeine and alcohol together.
If you or someone you know is having problems with alcohol abuse or addiction, whether it is connected to caffeine or not, you should find treatment as soon as possible. For more information on treatment for alcohol abuse, you can visit stage.sovhealth.com or call 866-524-5504 for more information.
Written by Brianna Gibbons, Sovereign Health Group writer