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Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks

Alcohol abuse alone is already one of the primary college health issues across the country. Its use leads to more deaths, disease, academic, and occupational problems than all illegal drugs combined. Energy drinks also can be dangerous due to the high doses of caffeine from guarana, ephedrine, taurine, and gingseng, which are legal stimulants. High doses of caffeine can have negative health consequences such as increased blood pressure, anxiety, insomnia and may impair the body's immune system.

The combination of high doses of alcohol and caffeine can likely increase the risks people experience. Alcohol is a depressant, which slows the functions of the brain, causing drowsiness, impaired cognitive functioning such as poor concentration, judgment, and coordination, and emotional mood swings. Caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness, nervousness, and dizziness. The mixture results in a "wide awake drunk," where drinkers mistakenly conclude they can perform tasks such as driving due to consuming high doses of alcohol and caffeine.

In the April 2010 issue of Addictive Behaviors, a study examined the consequences of mixing alcohol with energy drinks. The researchers found that the combination contributed to three times the risk of leaving a bar intoxicated and four times more likely to intend to drink and drive compared to those who only drank alcohol.