Energy drinks are popularly consumed by young adults and often mixed with alcohol to increase the effects of both substances.
The combination of caffeine and alcohol produces higher concentrations of alcohol in the bloodstream, resulting in higher rates of intoxication in shorter periods of time, leading some to consume more than alcohol than others. The mixture can cause a number of side effects that are risky for both the consumer and those around them as it often makes users more likely to engage in drunk driving, aggressive behavior and increases the likelihood of dependence developing.
While the side effects of this mixture have been studied more recently, researchers have identified another risk factor for young adults who consume energy drinks. Published in the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA), researchers have identified that those who frequently consume energy drinks are at increased odds to mix them with stimulant prescription drugs. The study examined both legal and illicit uses of prescription stimulants in young adults.
The mixture greatly increases the likelihood of developing dependency and addiction due to the euphoric feelings it produces. Combining these substances negatively impacts the way the brain functions and can affect motivation, performance, thoughts and feelings. Additionally, mixing energy drinks and prescription stimulants can produce dangerously high levels of serotonin which can cause rapid irregular heartbeats and seizures.
Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in the United States due to increased availability. In combination with energy drinks, the side effects and risks associated with dependency on either substance is exponentially increased. Experimentation can cause tolerance to build, leading some to search for new ways to achieve the same highs. The consequences associated with this mixture can be life-threatening and may require preventative medical intervention to address potential health problems that may develop as a result of abuse. In some cases, detox services may be required due to the number of dangerous outcomes that can occur due to the interaction between energy drinks and stimulant drugs.