It should be no surprise that the energy drink market has grown tremendously. One would be hard pressed to walk into most supermarkets or convenience stores without passing by cooler stocked with a variety of energy drinks. In fact, one report notes that the industry grew more than sixty percent between 2008 and 2012; for the year ending April 15, 2012, the market was estimated to be worth $12.5 billion.
And with the market booming, it should come as no surprise that energy drink cocktails, also known as alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED), are increasingly popular among young drinkers. WebMD reported that up to twenty-eight percent of college students drink AmEDs regularly. Accordingly, beverage manufacturers wasted no time taking advantage of this growing trend; consumers can now choose from an assortment of alcohol infused energy drinks.
However, a recent study published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research gives us at least one reason why this is a bad combination of ingredients. Eighty participants were given varying doses of alcohol mixed with energy drink or a placebo in order to determine the effects on alcohol priming (the subjective desire to drink more alcohol). The results show that participants who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drink reported a significantly higher desire for more alcohol than participants who consumed alcohol alone. Also, those participants reported an increased desire for alcohol over a longer period of time than participants consuming only alcohol.
So what does this mean? The study provides evidence that mixing alcohol and energy drinks can produce not only an increased desire to drink more alcohol, but that this desire to drink may be prolonged by the energy drink’s stimulating effects. And aside from other dangers, some believe that the “masking” effect of the energy drink could lead to increased risk taking, such as driving under the influence; but there is no conclusive evidence that this is so. Nonetheless, those who prefer energy drink cocktails should be aware of its effects and the possibility that it may lead to excessive alcohol consumption.