In a study looking into drinking patterns when there was a combination of caffeinated energy drinks and alcohol , researchers established that energy drinks pretty much doubled the quantity of alcohol that individuals drank. Therefore if they consumed an average of 4 drinks when they were not combining energy drinks, they would consume approximately 8 when combining. That’s in fact quite a profound increase; however it is in line with other research where an increase in alcohol consumption is seen, associated with using other stimulant drugs, such as tobacco.
Studies on energy drinks are so preliminary that there are no conclusive answers yet, however, the most intriguing suggestions are physiological: that the ingredients in the energy drinks could be affecting the brain’s dopamine release, extending the initial euphoria that accompanies rising blood-alcohol levels and suppressing the sedative-like effects when they drop. This would be in line with laboratory research carried out with other stimulants such as cocaine and cigarettes.
Studies have yet to establish whether it’s the caffeine or possibly the amino acid known as taurine that could be having an effect on the brain and resulting in these behaviors. However, when alcohol is drunk combined with these energy drinks, individuals claim they feel more sober but they still have a tendency to function badly on different neurocognitive tasks. Although they feel like they aren’t physically intoxicated, they still are.
Because individuals have a tendency to drink more alcohol when combined with energy drinks it could increase the chance of participating in other risk taking behaviors, put them at risk of acute alcohol poisoning, and, in the long term, build up the kind of tolerance which could result in dependence.
It’ll require more research before the exact effects of alcohol and energy drink combination can be confirmed. But caution and consideration for individuals who take pleasure in the drinks in conjunction is recommended.