Want to keep the party going all night long? Mixing alcohol and energy drinks is the wrong way to go about it. Sure, it works, but at what cost? Alcohol is a depressant, energy drinks are stimulants, and these polar opposites can be deadly when combined. Whether you’re chasing shots with a Red Bull or buying pre-mixed caffeinated alcoholic beverages, here are five reasons why it’s a bad idea:
1. Lots of Sneaky Calories
First is an appeal to your vanity. Alcohol is a calorie bomb on its own; one can of beer has over 150 calories, a single shot might have 60 and 80 calories, and a standard glass of wine can have about 120 calories. Energy drinks are also loaded with sugar (some of the popular brands have almost 40 grams!) and other artificial sweeteners, resulting in hundreds of empty calories per serving.
Calories aside, alcohol also slows your metabolism and makes your body less efficient at burning fat. Since mixing alcohol and energy drinks make you drink more than you normally would (more on that later), you have a perfect storm for sneaky weight gain.
2. Extra Risky Behavior
One of the most dangerous consequences of mixing alcohol and energy drinks is that the stimulant can mask the usual sensations of inebriation. The result is that drinkers don’t realize how intoxicated they are and tend to drink more because they don’t “feel” drunk. As such, mixing the two almost always guarantees binge or high-risk drinking that will result in significant cognitive impairment and loss of impulse control. Those who combine alcohol and energy drinks have:
- 2X the likelihood of being taken advantage of sexually
- 2X more likely to get in the car of an intoxicated driver
- 4X higher instances of insist that they’re okay to drive home after drinking
3. Bad For Your Heart
Despite one being a stimulant and one being a depressant, there’s an overlap on how energy drinks and alcohol can affect your heart. Both can cause temporary increases in heart rate and blood pressure. This spells bad news if you already have a heart condition. However, the real danger with this combination lies with energy drinks. Too much caffeine can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, and other long-term heart disease.
Another dangerous overlap between alcohol and energy drinks: they’re both diuretics (meaning they’ll make you need to pee more often). Combining the two can lead to deadly levels of dehydration. Additionally, the imbalance of fluids can wreak havoc on your kidneys and increase the chance of toxic levels of alcohol in the body. But dehydration isn’t just bad for your skin, it can be pretty ugly on your external appearance, making your skin look older, saggy, and dull.
5. Increased Risk of Alcohol Poisoning
One of the common myths of combining alcohol and energy drinks is that caffeine can prevent you from getting as drunk. This is far from the case and a dangerous misconception. Caffeine has no bearing on the speed at which the liver metabolizes alcohol, and therefore cannot prevent you from getting drunk or, another popular myth, sober you up.
What caffeine actually does is counteract adenosine, a chemical that alcohol consumption can produce and makes you feel sleepy. In turn, you might feel more awake and alert, leaving you to believe you’re less drunk than you actually are. The term for this sensation is “wide-awake drunk”. The effect it has on the brain can be likened to that of cocaine.
Someone who might normally be at the point of blacking out, might find themselves awake and still standing, erroneously thinking that they still have the capacity to drink more. As such, those who drink alcohol with energy drinks tend to drink in much greater quantities and put themselves at significantly higher risk of alcohol poisoning or developing an alcohol addiction.
Mixing Alcohol And Energy Drinks is Dangerous
During the peak of this craze, there were nearly 9,000 emergency visits and with 8% resulting in hospitalization. The FDA has since stepped in prohibiting the distribution of such products, but unfortunately, this remains a popular drinking pattern amongst younger crowds. Caffeinated alcoholic beverages present a slippery slope that can lead to alcoholism and a number of health complications. Learn more about the signs of alcohol addiction and how to treat it.