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Alcohol and Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Combination

by Landmark Recovery

January 21, 2021


Alcohol mixed with energy drinks create combinations like Jagerbombs, or vodka and Red Bull cocktails that keep you partying all night long – but they also have some less pleasant side effects. In fact, the combination of energy drinks and alcohol is so dangerous that the CDC, among others, has cautioned drinkers against indulging in these kinds of caffeinated beverages.


The Truth About Energy Drinks

Energy drinks were created with a singular purpose in mind: to give you energy. They are often consumed by individuals looking for an invigorating boost when tired or as a substitute for other caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea. And in that department, it certainly gets the job done. On average, one energy drink serving could potentially contain up to 200 mg of caffeine, on par with two cups of brewed coffee. 


But the difference is that, unlike coffee and tea, energy drinks contain high levels of sugar, equal to or exceeding the amounts found in an average can of cola. They may also contain herb and vitamin additives, like ginseng and guarana, which provide additional energy. 


Even without the addition of alcohol, energy drinks have been criticized for their lack of regulation, aggressive marketing tactics towards children and teens, and contributions to adverse health outcomes such as weight gain, increased diabetes risk, cardiovascular disease, gout, and much more.


Mix Your Poison

But why exactly is it so dangerous to mix caffeine with alcohol?


Even though caffeine stimulates and alcohol acts as a depressant, that doesn’t mean that having them together balances each other out. Caffeine covers up the relaxant effects of alcohol without diminishing intoxication. Simply put, the drinker will feel drunk without feeling tired, heavy, or slowed down. Because of this, a drinker might not realize just how intoxicated they really are. Particularly troubling is the consumption of these mixed drinks among binge drinkers and hard-partiers, such as college-aged youths.


One particular brand of caffeinated alcoholic beverage, Four Loko, was deemed so dangerous that several states banned its sale. Advertised as a malt liquor beverage, Four Loko’s brightly colored cans, bold design, and fun, fruity flavors gained immediate appeal with college-aged youths. Just as quickly, the drink was nicknamed “Blackout in a Can” due to an alarming number of hospitalizations attributed to the beverage. Four Loko has since made some much-needed updates to their recipe, but the reputation lingers.


Unfortunately, these mixed beverages can have long and short term health and behavioral effects. Both energy drinks and alcohol can increase the risk of diabetes, weight gain, and heart afflictions – together, they are a ticking time bomb. Excessive caffeine consumption can also contribute to heart palpitations, anxiety, and insomnia, long after the party’s over. And because of their easy-drinking nature and energy-boosting effects, these beverages can put you at serious risk of a hangover, blackout, overdose, or even death.


In conclusion, combining alcohol and caffeinated beverages might seem like a fun occasional party treat, but it can also pose a significant health hazard. Be aware of the consequences of mixing drinks, and know your limits. If you’re concerned about your drinking habits and seeking help, Landmark Recovery is here to guide you towards the path of wellness. Reach out today to learn how to get started.

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About the Author

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery

Landmark Recovery was founded with a determination to make addiction treatment accessible for all. Through our integrated treatment programs, we've helped thousands of people choose recovery over addiction and get back to life on their own terms. We're on a mission to save one million lives over the next century. We encourage all those struggling with substance use to seek professional help.