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People Who Combine Alcohol And Caffeinated Beverages Tend To Drink Twice As Much

May 1, 2010: 04:04 PM EST

A Canadian researcher investigating drinking patterns when alcohol and caffeinated energy beverages are combined has found that people drink twice the alcohol when they consume energy drinks than they would normally. One hypothesis about why this happens is that it’s a social behavior: people consume more of anything when they’re enjoying themselves. Another possibility points to the banning of smoking – a common stimulant – in many bars: people may turn to energy drinks to pick up the stimulant slack. But the most interesting hypothesis is physiological: the drinks’ ingredients may affect dopamine release from the brain, prolonging the initial euphoria that comes with rising blood-alcohol levels and holding off the sedative-like effects when they fall. According to researcher Sean Barrett, this parallels lab studies done with stimulants like tobacco cigarettes and cocaine.

Sean Barrett, et al., "Energy drink co-administration is associated with increased reported alcohol ingestion", Drug and Alcohol Review, May 01, 2010, © John Wiley & Sons
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