Thursday, 5 February 2015

A Good Buzz and Energy, Where Can You Go Wrong?

Before you continue reading, ask yourself: Have I consumed alcohol and energy drinks simultaneously?  If you said yes, congrats, you are a part of a large sector of our generation. Stop smiling. Don't take pride in that. Keep reading, because I am going to tell you why you should abstain from this dangerous mix. 
Jager bombs have become a part of the typical drinking culture for the millennials.  There has been a great deal of research done in the last few decades of the harms of alcohol consumption and also on the risks of drinking energy drinks, but this development begs for more attention on the combination of the two.  According to the Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitory Survey, young adults, ages 18-24, consume caffeinated alcoholic drinks four to five times more than the other age groups surveyed, ages 15-17 and 24+, combined (Brache, Thomas, & Stockwell, 2012). Many of us have heard from a lecturing mother or an informed friend that mixing alcohol with energy drinks is dangerous, but based on the continuing popularity of these drinks, it is clear that these words of wisdom are being disregarded by many of my peers. 

Unfortunately, it is once again time to admit that your mother was right.  There are four main reasons that people are drawn to mixing energy drinks and alcohol: intoxication reduction, social, energy or endurance, and pleasure seeking or hedonism (Droste et al., 2014).  The most prevalent of these is the motivation of
pleasure seeking, which I will focus on for this piece.  There are a number of immediate risks associated with consuming alcohol and energy drinks together instead of only alcohol: increased time spent drinking, decreased perception of personal intoxication thus leading to more alcohol consumed, increased aggression while intoxicated, and an increased likelihood of harm.  In the study done by Droste and colleagues (2014), it was determined that the risk of injury increases by up to 117% when combining alcohol and energy drinks in comparison to alcohol consumption alone.   However, the bad news doesn't stop there; those who consume alcohol and energy drinks are more likely to experience long term consequences such as alcohol dependency.

So what do we do? Well, for starters, stop drinking these lethal combinations!  Additionally, as a society, we should urge energy drink companies and alcohol retailers (ie the LCBO) to notify the consumers about the risks of this combination in their media.  Furthermore, we need to inform people about the very real issues that stem from mixing alcohol and energy drinks.  What may be seen as something insignificant that parents nag about is actually developing into a serious area of concern for our generation, and now that you have read this, you can’t even plead ignorance to the issue. 


Brache, K., Thomas, G., and Stockwell, T. (2012). Caffeinated alcoholic beverages in Canada: Prevalence of use, risks and recommended policy responses. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Droste, N., Tonner, L., Zinkiewicz, L., Pennay, A., Lubman, D., and Miller, P. (2014) Combined alcohol and energy drink use: Motivations as predictors of consumption patterns, risk of alcohol dependence, and experience of injury and aggression. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 38, 2087-2095. doi: 10.1111/acer.12438.

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