The Dangers of Alcohol and Energy Drinks

by: Mike Miller

The Extra Boost is Harmful to Your Health

As a counselor for both in person and online alcohol awareness courses, I hear my students talk about the new trend of combining alcohol with caffinated energy drinks such as Red Bull. since I haven't drank alcohol in many years, I wanted to comprehend how this combination got so popular.

If You Drink This, You'll Drink Anything

Think fast - what is any beverage that has alcohol and at least one other ingredient? If you answered "cocktail" - you are correct. The earliest traces of cocktails came into existence in about 1800 when folks combined any type of alcohol with bitters, sugar or water.

The big joke surrounding the consumption of cocktails in the early 1800s was that they were powerful tools for politicans with the thought that if you would down a cocktail, then you would swallow anything. Perhaps that is why I'm so disenchanted with the current state of politics (I'm not swallowing anything).

Is Mixing Such a Good Idea?

There is little doubt that today, in 2011, energy drinks are extremely popularboth them and water with vitamins. Call me a hypocrite, but I just don't get either one of them. I take a multi-vitamin every day and am perfectly content to drink water out of the sink. I feel fortunate to live in a modern society that provides practically free healthy drinking water. While I've never touched energy drinks I do drink caffeinated coffee each morning (and sometimes after dinner).

Other than a shot of Bailey's Irish Cream in a cup of coffee I had never combined alcohol with an energy-boosting drink. But combining the depressant - alcohol, with the stimulant - caffeinated energy drink, is the latest craze in alcoholic drinks.

I am sure these concoctions taste good, but are they safe?

Don't Let Yourself Get Gored by the Big Red Bull!

For many consuming either an alcoholic beverage or energy drink is safe. Consuming too many of either has proven to be not just unhealthy, but seriously harmful to your health. Students of my alcohol awareness classes find out about this this in the first couple of hours.

The French have many interesting culinary habits such as eating escargot. Horse meat can be purchased from the local butcher. But there's one thing you can't get in France - Red Bull! I know what you're thinking - you want to know why on Earth they would ban such a seemingly harmless drink?

Red Bull was banned after a number of widely reported and serious health incidents in which Red Bull was drunk. It was capped off by the death of an teenage athlete who died shortly after participating in a basketball game and drinking four cans.

Energy Drinks Side Effects

Research has shown there are more than just the energy-enhancing effects of these energy drinks, both physical and mental. In some people the effects are positive, increasing alertness and stimulating cognitive performance. But, if too many energy drinks are consumed one might experience a "high" from being over-stimulated, but more importantly have serious common side effects like increasing agitation, anxiety and inability to sleep.

Energy drinks are also known to cause nausea, irregular heart beat and even seizures.

Mixing Could be Hazardous to Your Health!

Mixing caffeinated beverages with alcohol is not new. Cuba Libra is a classic example. However, Red Bull and other "modern-day" energy drinks have three times the caffeine than cola.

One of the effects of alcohol is to change the ability of your brain to make rational decisions. It is a fact - alcohol slows the mind's ability to function and slows reaction time. A recent study showed that combining alcoholic beverages with a highly-caffeinated energy drink gave those who drank the toxic mixture a sense that they were more in control. This side effect might cause those who consume mixtures to take more risks than had they just consumed alcohol alone.

Also, those mixing energy drinks and alcohol tended to consume about two more drinks and believe they still had control. Many students with blood-alcohol levels well above the legal limit thought they were "100% in control." The false sense of sobriety provided by these energy drinks has a serious adverse effect on cognitive ability. Many students later had to take a minor in consumption class to learn that they actually weren't in control.