Mixing Caffeine & Alcohol Increases Urge for More Alcohol

By Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.N., C.N.S., C.B.T.

The combination of caffeine-containing energy drinks and alcohol, popular with young and underage drinkers, may create unexpected consequences: an increased urge to drink more alcohol. That’s the conclusion of a 2015 review by Cecile Marczinski, a University of Northern Kentucky psychologist and expert on binge drinking among adolescents and college students.

Increased rates of binge drinking and risk of alcohol dependence are linked to these combination drinks when compared to alcohol alone. In both animal and human testing, says Dr. Marczinski, “when an energy drink (or caffeine) is combined with alcohol, the desire (or urge) to drink more alcohol is more pronounced…than with the same dose of alcohol alone. The experience of drinking alcohol appears to be more rewarding.”

 My Viewpoint: Anything that promotes more consumption of alcohol is obviously dangerous, and at any age. However, minors and younger drinkers may be at higher risk of harming themselves and others as a result of increased alcohol use.

 What This Means to You: Minors and underage drinkers need to learn about this added risk.

 Recommendation: If you have children who are teenagers or young adults, you may want to ask if combination drinks like this are served at parties they go to and inform them about the added risk.

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