What do energy drinks and alcohol have in common? More than you might think. Energy drinks are growing in popularity particularly among the college students who use them to pull an all-nighter the evening before a big test or to revive themselves after a weekend of college partying. Some college students are even mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Equally disturbing is a new study showing that drinking energy drinks increases the risk of a more serious problem – alcohol dependency.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol Dependence: What’s the Association?
In a study to be published in the journal Alcoholism, researchers looked at the drinking habits of 1,000 university students. After questioning them what and how much they drank, they came to some “sobering” conclusions.
They found that students who frequently drank energy drinks had certain characteristics in common. They were more likely to drink alcohol at a younger age, drink more alcohol beverages and more likely to develop alcohol dependence – compared to their colleagues who seldom drank energy drinks. The students in this study were designated as frequent energy drink users if they drank at least one energy drink a week.
Risks of Energy Drinks: Why Do They Increase the Risk of Alcohol Dependence?
Why would drinking energy drinks predispose college kids to alcohol dependence? This study doesn’t prove cause and effect, but it does raise concerns about the risks of energy drinks. Students are combining energy drinks with alcohol to stay alert so they can drink more. With this type of habit, it’s not surprising energy drink users would be at a greater risk of alcohol dependence.
One theory behind why drinking energy drinks increases the risk of alcohol dependence has to do with their effects on the brain. Some energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants such as guarana and ephedrine, which give users a psychological lift and a sense of empowerment. People who seek that kind of experience might also be more prone to drinking alcohol for a “buzz”.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol Dependence: The Bottom Line?
Energy drinks may be alcohol-free, but college kids who drink them are putting themselves at risk for alcohol dependence or endangering their health by mixing them with alcohol at parties. Educate your kids about the risks of energy drinks, and put a stop to the dangerous trend of mixing energy drinks and alcohol.
MSN Health. “Energy Drink May Fuel College Kids’ Alcohol Use”.
Science Daily website. “Combining Energy Drink with Alcohol Potentially Dangerous”