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Energy drinks are supposed to give you more personal energy. But research shows that these beverages may imperil your health in a wide variety of ways. They are especially risky when you combine them with alcohol.
Scientists find that when you often mix energy drinks with alcoholic beverages, you are more likely to drink an increased amount of alcohol and develop a drinking problem. A study at the University of Maryland demonstrates that energy drinkers are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a younger age and consume more alcohol at each drinking session.
“We were able to examine if energy drink use was still associated with alcohol dependence, after controlling for risk-taking characteristics. The relationship persisted and the use of energy drinks was found to be associated with an increase in the risk of alcohol dependence,” says researcher Amelia Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.
Arria’s research reinforces the concern that mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to “wide-awake drunkenness.” The caffeine in energy drinks can mask the self-perception of being drunk, but doesn’t reduce your boozy impairment.
Consequently, combining energy drinks with alcohol can make you think you are less drunk than you actually are. The frequent result: You drink even more and drive drunk.
“Caffeine does not antagonize or cancel out the impairment associated with drunkenness — it merely disguises the more obvious markers of that impairment,” says Kathleen Miller, a research scientist from the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo.