Researchers at the University of Victoria’s Center for Addictions Research of British Columbia, or CARBC, found combining energy drinks and alcohol can increase a person’s risk of injury from falls and other accidents.
The team analyzed peer-reviewed journal articles on alcohol and energy drinks from 1981 to 2016 and found a link between the use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks, or AmED, and an increased risk of injury compared with drinking alcohol alone.
“The stimulant effects of caffeine mask the result that most people get when they drink,” Audra Roemer, of the Center for Addictions Research, said in a press release. “Usually, when you’re drinking alcohol, you get tired and you go home. Energy drinks mask that, so people may underestimate how intoxicated they are, end up staying out later, consume more alcohol, and engage in risky behavior and more hazardous drinking practices.”
Researchers identified injuries as unintentional such as from falls or car accidents, and intentional such as fights or violence.
Previous studies have shown AmED use is on the rise in North America.
“We know that these are risk factors for alcohol-related injuries, and some research has suggested that people who have these traits might prefer the awake-drunk state that you get from mixing alcohol and energy drinks,” Roemer said. “This could be a population that’s at even higher risk for injuries.”
Roemer said she was surprised at how little research there was on the subject and because of that, were not able to statistically determine the extent of the risk of AmED use.
“At the end of the day, we looked at all of the studies, but more research is needed to confirm our findings,” Roemer said. “We’re currently running a controlled emergency department study to look at the relationship a little more closely. Hopefully that will bring more answers. The research we’ve done so far points to an increased risk of injuries with the use of AmED that could be a serious public health concern.”