The danger lies in the fact that the stimulants in energy drinks can mask the depressant effects of the alcohol, as scientific research has revealed that the consumption of high amounts of caffeine (as found in energy drinks) counteracts the drowsiness produced by alcohol without diminishing the effects of alcohol, resulting in “wide awake drunkenness"; the mix of alcohol and caffeine can lead to a loss of inhibition.
- Drinking more than anticipated and/or more than can be safely consumed because the normal onset of sleepiness is delayed
- Inability to judge your level of intoxication because caffeine reduces the feeling of drunkenness, although not the overall level of impairment.
- Taking greater risks, such as driving after drinking, because the combination makes you feel less intoxicated that you are.
Impaired judgment is not the sole consequence of alcohol-energy drink mix, because the combination of a depressant and a stimulant can also exert a negative effect on the heart. Shortness of breath, elevated heart rate, and heart attacks can result. For adolescents and people with certain health conditions, high levels of caffeine are especially dangerous.
Both alcohol and caffeine are diuretics (drive fluids out of the body through urination), and dehydration is another side effect.
Furthermore, researchers from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that those who consumed energy drinks with alcohol were more likely to:
Take advantage of or be taken advantage of sexually
Ride with a drunk driver
Be hurt or injured
Require medical treatment as a result of their drinking
Serving alcohol and energy drinks