Perhaps banning Four Loko was not the answer to everything. A new study has found that there is a link among college-age adults, between casual, risky sex and mixed beverages that contain alcohol and energy drinks.
The study was conducted by Kathleen E. Miller, a senior research scientist at the University of Buffalo. She surveyed 648 participants who were enrolled in introductory-level courses at a public university. Of the participants, 47.5 percent were female and, while they ranged in age from 18 to 40, an overwhelming majority – 60 percent – was under the legal drinking age of 21.
Participants who had reported having had alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmEDs), such as Red Bull and vodka or Jagerbombs, within the past month were more likely to have had a casual partner and having been inebriated during their last sexual encounter.
The problem is that casual or intoxicated sex is more likely to result in an unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, sexual assaults and depression. Previous research has also linked energy drinks with destructive behaviors like drunk driving, binge drinking, and fighting.
Miller believes that AmEDs are linked with the present rise of the "hook-up culture" in many colleges and universities. She also cautions that people consuming AmEDs are more likely to drink larger quantities of alcohol, because the energy drinks increase the craving for yet another drink.
Nearly one in three college students drink AmEDs, but there is good news as well: those who drank AmEDs were no less likely to use condoms in their sexual encounters. Perhaps more importantly, AmEDs are not in themselves a significant indicator of casual sex.
When thinking of their last sexual encounter, 45.1 percent reported having had a casual partner, 24. 8 percent reported having been intoxicated, and 43.6 percent reported not having used a condom. The survey also found that respondents were more likely to have had used a condom with a casual partner than with a steady one, which corresponds with previous research.
Miller said that, while she did not believe that drinking Red Bull and vodka would cause a person to have sex with strangers, it did make it more likely. She suggests educational campaigns and consumer protections, like a warning against mixing alcohol and energy drinks, to combat against the consumption of AmEDs.
The study was published in the Journal of Caffeine Research.