Animal studies done in the past have shown that the reinforcing and rewarding properties of alcohol is increased by caffeine. Manufacturers capitalized on this by releasing premixed beverages where energy drinks combined are with alcohol (AmEDs).
In 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed these unsafe. In spite of this, private consumers and bartenders continued mixing AmEDs fueling an increasing rise in popularity of the drink.
The greatest risk identified by the FDA was that the mix created a bigger chance of binge drinking than alcohol alone did. In a study aimed at confirming this risk, 26 adult social drinkers (13 males and 13 females) were invited to take part in six double-blind sessions where high-caffeine energy drinks and alcohol was consumed in combination or individually.
Participant receive one of six possible drinks on each test day:
- Large energy drink
- Medium energy drink
- Decaffeinated soft drink
- Vodka + large energy drink
- Vodka + medium energy drink
- Vodka + decaffeinated soft drink
After each session the participants’ breath alcohol concentration was measured and they were asked to rate their desire for alcohol.
Results showed that alcohol on its own increased the craving for more alcohol; much more than the placebo doses did. This craving was increased even more with the AmEDs mixed with alcohol. In summary, this study validated the FDA concern that the mix created a bigger chance of binge drinking than alcohol alone did.
Study has been published in the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.