While scientists and physicians alike have long preached about the dangers of combining alcohol like vodka, whiskey and beer with energy drinks that have an excess amount of caffeine and taurine, there are plenty of drinks out there that combine both stimulants and alcohol. While people can buy these drinks as long as they are of legal drinking age, it's wise to be careful because the combination of alcohol and caffeine can have adverse effects.
List of Alcoholic Energy Drinks
Alcohol is a depressant, and caffeine, taurine and similar substances are stimulants. Because of that, alcoholic energy drinks are at cross purposes. Energy drinks without alcohol promise to spike energy levels, allowing drinkers to concentrate without drowsiness and stay awake and alert longer without needing sleep. Contrarily, alcohol is known for its sedative effects, making drinkers drowsy, slow, less alert and more in need of rest.
Alcoholic energy drinks, also known as AEDs, like Four Loko, Sparks, Charge and Torque promise to deliver the feelings of intoxication and relaxation that alcohol provides without sacrificing the alertness and energy that energy drinks like Red Bull and Jolt Cola provide to drinkers. Many of these beverages are marketed as alcohol malt beverages, but the labels are designed to confuse the buyer with their resemblance to other nonalcoholic energy drinks.
These drinks offer a cheap alternative to mixing an energy drink with hard liquor, without the hassle of purchasing an extra bottle of hard liquor. There is also the added unspoken bonus of the packaging of the nonalcoholic energy drinks resembling the alcoholic energy drinks to such an extent that cashiers may not be able to tell them apart and may sell them to underage drinkers.
Red Bull Alcohol Content
For many people in the United States, the term "energy drink" is synonymous with Red Bull. While Red Bull's alcohol percentage is zero, Red Bull remains one of the most popular nonalcoholic energy drinks to pair with alcohol. Red Bull and vodka is a popular drink order at college bars and sports bars catering to a young crowd that wants to enjoy alcohol without the drowsiness.
A Red Bull and vodka drink requires the addition of the alcohol, but the AEDs already contain alcohol in an effort to one-up the competition and become a one-stop drink. Purveyors of alcoholic energy drinks realize that consumers want to combine the effects of alcohol with the effects of an energy drink. Buying a drink that contains both allows them to eliminate the middleman.
Monster Energy is another popular nonalcoholic energy drink. The caffeine in Monster Energy is approximately 160 milligrams per 16-ounce can. This is fairly comparable to coffee, but Monster Energy drinks deliver caffeine with sugar, which adds to its powerful effect on the body. Monster Energy combined with alcohol can keep the drinker alert for a significant amount of time and possibly unaware of how intoxicated the alcohol has made him.
Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks
While mixing alcohol and energy drinks may sound like a good idea, the fact is that these two substances can be very dangerous when combined. The assumption may be that since alcohol is dangerous because it can be a sedative, combining it with an energy drink makes sense as a stimulant because it will keep the consumer alert. This can be true, but this can also have serious negative consequences.
The most insidious effect of an alcoholic energy drink is that the stimulants in the energy drink tend to mask the body's natural response to consuming too much alcohol. Contrary to making you alert and capable of critical thinking, this convinces consumers that they can drink more and very often they do.
The consequences are that people who drink alcohol mixed with energy drinks often drink much more than they normally would and are more likely to engage in risky behavior such as getting into a car with someone who has been drinking, drinking more than is safe for their body weight and tolerance or leaving with someone whom they don't know.
Ashley Friedman is a freelance writer with experience writing about education for a variety of organizations and educational institutions as well as online media sites.