Combining alcohol with energy drinks makes you crave more alcohol: study

Red Bull drink cans are seen in a supermarket in Vienna March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Red Bull drink cans are seen in a supermarket in Vienna March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

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, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

Australian researchers threw an experimental party in order to tackle public health concerns over cocktails containing energy drinks and concluded that they can increase binge drinking.

Popular cocktails such as Red Bull and vodka have long been a public health concern.

The research in question was inspired by a number of cross-sectional studies suggesting that young adults with a propensity for such cocktails consume more alcohol than their peers who don't, according to Rebecca McKetin, a fellow at the Australian National University's Centre for Research on Ageing, Health and Well-being.

McKetin acknowledged the possibility that such drinkers are simply more experimental and less inhibited than others, and her study set out to explore that very question.

Researchers recruited 75 participants between the ages of 18 and 30 for a double-blind, randomized pre- versus post-test experiment which, taking the subject matter into account, is best described as a party in the laboratory before and after which data was recorded.

Participants received a cocktail containing either 60 ml of vodka and a Red Bull Silver Edition energy drink or 60 ml of vodka with soda water, and both cocktails also contained 200 ml of a fruit drink.

Although they were not told what they were receiving it is likely that those familiar with the taste and effects of Red Bull could tell whether or not it was in their drink.

Participants completed an Alcohol Urge Questionnaire before and 20 minutes after the party in the lab, as well as a post-test Biphasic Alcohol Effects Questionnaire, Drug Effects Questionnaire and breath alcohol concentration (BAC) test.

The results of the Alcohol Urge Questionnaire were the most important part of the results, according to researchers, who found the urge to drink increased the most in those given energy cocktails.

"We found that when people drink A+EDs (energy cocktails) that they have a stronger desire to keep drinking than if they drank alcohol on its own," said McKetin. "This would mean that someone who drinks A+EDs would want to keep drinking more than their friends who don't."

"A greater urge to drink has substantial implications when we think about the nature of drinking episodes," says Peter G. Miller, associate professor of psychology at Deakin University, Geelong Waterfront Campus in Australia. "Of course, the drunker you get, the more likely you are to get injured, be a victim or perpetrator of an assault, or even drive home while drunk, let alone making bad choices about the people you associate with and possible sexual behaviour."

Miller and McKetin remarked that the results of their study are similar to those of several American studies.

Their work was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.


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