Can energy drinks increase the desire for more alcohol?

Research paper by Cecile A CA Marczinski

Indexed on: 17 Jan '15Published on: 17 Jan '15Published in: Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)


Energy drinks, the fastest growing segment in the beverage market, have become popular mixers with alcohol. The emerging research examining the use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmEDs) indicates that the combination of caffeine-containing energy drinks with alcohol may be riskier than the use of alcohol alone. The public health concerns arising from AmED use are documented in different research domains. Epidemiologic studies reveal that the consumption of AmEDs is frequent among young and underage drinkers, demographic groups that are more likely to experience the harms and hazards associated with alcohol use. In addition, for all consumers, elevated rates of binge drinking and risk of alcohol dependence have been associated with AmED use when compared to alcohol alone. Results from laboratory studies help explain why AmED use is associated with excessive intake of alcohol. When an energy drink (or caffeine) is combined with alcohol, the desire (or urge) to drink more alcohol is more pronounced in both humans and animals than with the same dose of alcohol alone. The experience of drinking alcohol appears to be more rewarding when combined with energy drinks. Given that caffeine in other foods and beverages increases preference for those products, further research on AmEDs may elucidate the underlying mechanisms that contribute to alcohol dependence.