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Regular Consumption of Energy Drinks Linked to Heavy Alcohol Use

Posted in Alcohol Abuse

Regularly consuming energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar is associated with higher levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol dependence, according to a new study.

Researchers from University of Maryland surveyed more than 1,000 college students in the United States and found that those who consumed caffeinated drinks on a weekly or daily basis were likely to drink alcohol more often and in larger quantities. They were also more likely to become dependent on alcohol than those who didn’t consume energy drinks or consumed them infrequently.

Amelia Arria, lead author of the study, said that people who regularly consume these drinks were also more likely to experience alcohol-related problems such as blackouts or hangovers, and were more susceptible to self-injury than those who don’t use energy drinks as often.

The study found that about two-thirds of the students consumed energy drinks at some point over the last year, and 10 percent consumed them on a weekly or daily basis

Previous studies have found associations between heavy energy drink consumption and risky behaviors such as substance abuse. These energy drinks have as much caffeine as a cup and a half of coffee, but the companies aren’t required to disclose the amount of caffeine on their labels, so consumers may not know how much caffeine they are actually consuming.

More people are also mixing energy drinks with alcohol, mistakenly thinking that the caffeine counteracts the effects of alcohol. Arria said that this leads them to believe that they aren’t impaired, which could result in drunk driving, unprotected sex, and other risky behaviors.

Arria and colleagues are calling for more regulation of energy beverages, and hope to raise awareness of the popular drinks’ negative consequences.

Source: AFP, High-caffeine energy drinks linked to alcohol abuse: study, November 16, 2010