Why Mixing Red Bull and Vodka Turns You Into a Belligerent Fool
A new paper found that mixing energy drinks and alcohol is linked to a higher risk of injury compared to booze alone, which is definitely not news to anyone who's climbed on top of a table of questionable construction at 3am to dance and then refused your friend's help to get down because YOU CAN DO IT YOURSELF, OKAY?
For a new review in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, Canadian researchers wanted to look at the relationship between spiked energy drinks and injury risk, so they identified 13 peer-reviewed studies published between 1981 and 2016 (eight were from the United States). Ten studies showed evidence that people have a higher risk of getting hurt—either intentionally or unintentionally—when drinking an alcohol-and-energy-drink combo versus booze alone.
Lead study author Audra Roemer, a research assistant at University of Victoria's Centre for Addictions Research of BC, explained in a release that energy drinks conceal the effects of alcohol, which might make you do dumber shit than normal.
"Usually when you're drinking alcohol, you get tired and you go home," Roermer said. "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." She described this as an "awake-drunk" state, and good luck talking your brother out of picking a fight with the guy who cut in front of him at the bar now that he's wasted AND energized.
They weren't able to determine the exact level of risk associated with combining alcohol and energy drinks because a wide variability in the studies made it difficult to compare results. More research is needed (isn't it always?) but Roemer says this is just the first of three planned studies on the topic. She's currently running a study based on emergency department data that she hopes will help clear things up.
To be clear, this study mostly applies to drinks like Jägerbombs and vodka and Red Bull—or rum and Red Bull, we won't judge—that you'd mix yourself or order from a bartender. The majority of the premixed brands, aka caffeinated alcoholic beverages, have been discontinued or reformulated, including the most famous one, Four Loko, which removed caffeine from its obnoxious camo cans in 2010 after reports of several hospitalizations and two deaths.
So, yes, you may remember reading about how mixing caffeine and alcohol can make you die. If you only get injured, great job.
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