Dual Effects Noted for Alcohol and Energy Drink Co-Ingestion

Energy drinks up alertness, negate some sedation effects of alcohol; can cause overstimulation

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 29 (HealthDay News) -- Although consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) increases alertness and may negate some intoxication-related sedation effects, it can lead to negative physiological and psychological side effects associated with overstimulation, according to a study published online Aug. 15 in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

In an effort to examine the subjective psychological, physiological, and behavioral risk-taking outcomes of AmED consumption compared with alcohol consumption, Amy Peacock, of the University of Tasmania in Hobart, and colleagues surveyed 403 adults aged 18 to 35 years who had consumed AmED and alcohol only in the preceding six months.

The researchers found that, although compared with alcohol-only sessions, participants consumed much more alcohol during AmED sessions, they were significantly less likely to experience disinhibition and risky behaviors. They were also less likely to experience physiological and psychological sedation outcomes. These included speech and walking difficulties, nausea, slurred speech and confusion, exhaustion, and sadness. However, physiological and psychological outcomes associated with overstimulation were significantly increased during AmED sessions. These included heart palpitations, sleep difficulties, agitation, tremors, jot and crash episodes, increased speech speed, irritability, and tension.

"In summary, co-ingestion of energy drinks with alcohol appears to offer a reduction in the experience of sedation outcomes but amplification of adverse stimulation outcomes," the authors write.

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