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Bay Area Criminal Defense Blog

The Consequences of Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Posted by Lynn Gorelick | Apr 10, 2015 | 0 Comments

The life of a modern college student often involves balancing partying and studying. With sporting events, fraternity and sorority events, and the landmark birthday of turning 21 years old, many young people experience increased exposure to alcohol. When it comes time for midterms and finals, students find ways to stay awake as long as possible, drinking Monster or Red Bull energy drinks to keep them up in order to cram as much study time in as possible. With the common use of both alcohol and energy drinks among young people, there has been a rise in combining the two intoxicants, which can increase the likelihood of accidents.  

College bars regularly serve cocktails of Jägermeister and Red Bull, or vodka and Red Bull. This allows drinkers to feel the intoxicating effects of alcohol, without feeling tired or sleepy, which can be a natural effect of alcohol consumption. But combining energy drinks and alcohol can be a dangerous combination, leading to increased risk-taking among some young people. A recent article from the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that drinking energy drinks combined with alcohol can lead to an increased consumption of alcohol while minimizing the perception of intoxication.

As more young grow up with energy drinks, they may underestimate the effects they can have on the system. Most of the energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, as well as other herbal ingredients or amino acids purported to increase energy. However, young people are not as experienced with how alcohol affects their body, and around college age, many begin experimenting with drinking.

Relying on their friends for information, many people incorrectly think energy drinks counter the effects of alcohol, reducing the intoxicating effects of drinking. Instead, the opposite can happen because the energy drinks can act as a diuretic,increasing the effects of alcohol. Drinkers may feel less tired, but the energy drinks do not reduce alcohols impairing effects on the body. As a result, drinkers may consume more alcohol than they normally would have because they don't feel as tired. The caffeine buzz can also increase the likelihood some drivers may engage in riskier behavior, such as drinking and driving.

Researchers at the University of Western States in Oregon found that combining alcohol and caffeine can lead some people to pursue riskier behavior than with just alcohol alone. Drinkers who combined energy drinks with alcohol were more likely to drive when they knew they were too intoxicated than those who only drank alcohol. One of the study's authors indicated energy drinks can make people feel more confident, which can be dangerous when it comes to drinking and driving.

In past years, some enterprising manufacturers were selling products that already combined alcohol and caffeine. Drinks, including Four Loko, had high amounts of alcohol and caffeine, and was involved in the deaths of a number of young people across the country. The FDA finally stepped in, and issued a warning against such drinks, forcing manufacturers to reformulate the drinks without the caffeine.

Here in the East Bay, especially with the number of college and university students, experimentation with alcohol and energy drink consumption is not uncommon. Unfortunately for some people, this can lead to an increased chance of driving under the influence. If you or a loved one was arrested for a DUI anywhere in Alameda or Contra Costa, contact me today so that we can discuss your case, and how you can fight to keep a conviction off your record, and keep your license to drive. 

About the Author

Lynn Gorelick

Lynn Gorelick has been an attorney for 30 years. She is the Attorney Lynn Gorelick is the President of the California DUI Lawyers Association and a Faculty and Sustaining member of the National College of DUI Defense.

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