Sean Barrett, associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, studies simultaneous substance use, particularly patterns of drug use related to alcohol.
Dr. Barrett was one of several Dalhousie researchers involved in a study, published in a recent issue of Drug and Alcohol Review, investigating drinking patterns when alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks were combined. Researchers interviewed more than 70 Dalhousie students about their energy drink consumption and alcohol use.
“What we found was that energy drinks basically doubled the amount that people reported drinking,” he says. “So if they had an average of four drinks when they weren’t mixing with energy drinks, they would have around eight if they were. That’s actually a pretty profound increase, but it’s consistent with our other research where we see an increase in alcohol consumption related to the use of other stimulant drugs, like tobacco.”
According to Dr. Barrett's study, “What we found was that energy drinks basically doubled the amount that people reported drinking,” he says.
Why does this occur? Dr. Barrett says that the research on energy drinks is so preliminary that there’s not a conclusive answer yet. One hypothesis is that it’s purely a social behaviour: people who are having a good time use more of anything. There’s also an interesting correlation between the banning of smoking in bars—a popular stimulant for many who drink—with the rising use of energy drinks.
However, the most interesting hypotheses are physiological: that the drinks’ ingredients may be affecting the release of dopamine from the brain, prolonging the initial euphoria that comes with rising blood-alcohol levels and holding off the sedative-like effects when they fall. This would parallel lab research done with other stimulants like tobacco cigarettes and cocaine.
“Research has yet to determine if it’s the caffeine or perhaps an amino acid called taurine that might be affecting the brain and leading to these behaviours,” says Dr. Barrett. “But what we do know that when alcohol is used together with these energy drinks, people say they feel more sober but they still tend to perform poorly on various neurocognitive tasks. They’re still physically intoxicated, they just feel like they aren’t.”
Because people tend to consume more alcohol when they co-use energy drinks it can put them at an risk for acute alcohol poisoning, increase the possibility of engaging in other risk-taking behaviours and—in the longer term— build up the sort of tolerance that can lead to dependence.
Dr. Barrett notes that it will take more research before the precise effects of combining energy drinks with alcohol can be confirmed. But he advises caution and consideration for those who enjoy the beverages in tandem.
“We can’t yet say for sure if it’s neurochemical or social or something else, but we see the behaviour pattern rather clearly. When people drink with energy drinks, they tend to drink in a more hazardous way.”
Charles Crosby | Newswise Science News
Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences