How Different Alcohols Affect Behavior: Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drinks Increase Your Risk For Injury

While the science is still out on whether gin makes you a “sad drunk,” or whether wine causes you to be a “flirty drunk,” a new study has confirmed that alcohol and energy drink cocktails most definitely make you a clumsy drunk. According to the research, highly caffeinated energy drinks may cause people to underestimate how drunk they are, which may lead to more drinking and a greater risk for injury. 

According to the study, now published online in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, people who enjoy alcohol mixed with highly caffeinated energy drinks, such as traditional vodka redbulls or prepackaged drinks such as Four Loko, are at greater risk for injury than individuals who prefer other types of alcoholic beverages. The high caffeine content in some energy drinks masks the intoxicating effect of alcohol, and increases drinkers' risk of both accidents and intentional injuries.

Read: The Reason Why You Get So Wasted On Vodka And Red Bull

"Usually when you're drinking alcohol, you get tired and you go home,” explained lead study author Audra Roemer, in a recent statement. “Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behavior and more hazardous drinking practices."

alcohol You may become more drunk than you expected if you mix your alcohol with a highly caffeinated beverage. Photo Courtesy of Pixabay

For their research, the team from the University of Victoria’s Centre for Addictions Research of BC in Canada looked at journal articles on alcohol and energy drinks dating from 1981 to 2016. The team was specifically looking for links between the instance of injury and energy drink/alcohol use, and found this in 10 of the 13 studies they looked at.  

Of course, the research revealed that it may not only be drink choice that increases an individual's risk for sustaining alcohol-related injuries. An individual's personality may also play a role, but often times, certain personalities prefer certain beverages. For example, according to the study, individuals who have certain risk-taking or sensation-seeking tendencies may prefer the “awake drunk” state that energy drinks and alcohol give you, as opposed to the traditional drunk.

Drinking alcohol in combination with energy drinks may increase one's risk of injury, but there's little evidence to support the idea that different alcohols change your personality in different ways. According to io9, the alcohol found in wine, hard liquor, and beer is exactly the same, meaning the drug will affect you the same no matter how you drink it. However, the amount of alcohol you drink and the different substances it's mixed with may affect how you handle certain drinks. For example, hard liquor has higher concentrations of alcohol than wine, and wine higher concentrations than beer, so having “one drink” of each may produce different effects. This is why three gin and tonics may get you far more drunk than three beers.

In addition, Paul Clayton, Senior Scientific Advisor to the UK government's Committee on the Safety of Medicines, told The Guardian that often times the mood and social context you are in before you start drinking may affect how your drunk experience is.

“The idea that gin makes you unhappy probably comes from its nickname 'mother's ruin' - the idea that it makes women depressed, which is a cultural idea,” explained Clayton. “But fundamentally, alcohol is alcohol whichever way you slice it.”

Source: Roemer A, Stockwell T. Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drinks and Risk of Injury: A Systematic Review. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs . 2017

See Also:

What Happens To Your Body When You Mix Alcohol And Energy Drinks

Mixing Alcohol And Energy Drinks May Have Unique Effect Of Increasing Urge To Drink More Alcohol

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