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Caffeinated Energy Drinks Mixed in Cocktails Encourage Drinking

Update Date: Jul 18, 2014 09:34 AM EDT

Alcohol, whether it is mixed with other liquids or not, can cause harmful side effects, such as impairment and alcohol poisoning. In order to prevent these conditions from occurring, monitoring one's number of drinks is important. In a new study, researchers found that when people consume cocktail drinks mixed with caffeinated energy drinks, they are more likely to want to drink more.

"Based on our study, we can't be certain whether it was the caffeine or the sugary additives that made the energy drink and vodka cocktail more appealing than drinking alcohol alone," said study lead author Rebecca McKetin, a fellow with the Center for Research on Aging, Health and Well-being at the Australian National University in Canberra according to WebMD.

In this study, the researchers from Australia recruited 75 men and women between the ages of 18 and 30 who did not have a history of alcohol or drug addiction. Roughly half of them received a cocktail that was made with vodka, fruit juice and Red Bull Silver Edition. The other half was given a cocktail made with vodka, juice and soda water. The participants were unaware of which drink they received. The researchers interviewed the participants about how they felt about their current state before and after they had their cocktail.

People from both groups reported feeling around the same level of stimulation from their cocktail drinks. People from the cocktail-energy drink, however, reported higher satisfaction with their drink in comparison to the people in the other group. These people also reported a greater urge to have another drink.

"We normally think of alcohol as a depressant, but it also has a stimulant effect, and it is this stimulant effect that is most strongly related to how much we like alcohol, and whether we want to keep drinking," McKetin added. "Caffeine, being a stimulant, tends to bring out the stimulant effects of alcohol intoxication. It may be this that causes energy drinks to increase the desire to keep drinking alcohol."

The researchers cautioned that their findings are based on self-reports. They did not actually observe which participants physically went for another drink. The study was published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

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