Energy Drinks + Alcohol Responsible for a Surge In Visits to the Emergency Room

Over a four-year period ER visits associated with highly caffeinated beverages rose over tenfold according to a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Perhaps not so surprising to those who have been to a bar and seen the number of people drinking vodka and Red Bull, 44 percent of the energy drink ER visits also involved alcohol, prescription medications or illegal narcotics.

Combining Energy Drinks With Other Drugs Such as Alcohol Is Risky

Just over half of the ER trips involving energy drinks combined with other drugs were for patients who ranged in age from 18 to 25, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Mixing these extremely caffeinated drinks with addictive substances such as alcohol is a dangerous activity. Young people often mix the beverages because they feel the disproportionate amount of caffeine causes them to be able to party longer. They are correct, but the added energy comes with dangerous side effects especially when combined. These harmful consequences include:

  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Hypertension
  • Dehydration
  • Increase in dangerous behavior
  • Deadly injury
  • Increased chance of addiction

The added energy can give people the ability to drink more than they would have otherwise and also gives them a false perception of sobriety that may lead to harmful behavior such as getting behind the wheel while highly intoxicated. In fact, a study completed at Wake Forest University School of Medicine discovered that students who combined alcohol and highly caffeinated beverages had double the chance of sustaining an injury, seeking medical help, being in the car with a drunk driver, or being the aggressor or the victim of an unwanted sexual encounter.

Regulations on the Amount of Caffeine in Energy Drinks and Honest Labeling Are Necessary

There are currently no maximum levels of caffeine determined for energy drink manufacturers. Some of the drinks contain as much stimulant effect as a cup of coffee, but there are others that have been found to contain 100 times that amount. The quantity of caffeine is not required to be listed on the can and is therefore omitted on many of the labels. When you combine such excessive amounts of a stimulant with a depressant, such as alcohol, the body receives strongly conflicting messages that can lead to dangerous physiological responses.

Since teens and young adults both over and under the legal drinking age can purchase energy drinks, worried parents are calling for clear directives from health officials. In addition, many college administrations have banned the sale of energy drinks on campuses due to escalating problems from their consumption.

Do you know people who combine energy drinks with other drugs? Do you think regulations on labeling and limits on caffeine would help the medical problems associated with their use? Leave us a comment below with your ideas.