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Comparison of the deleterious effects of binge drinking-like alcohol exposure in adolescent and adult mice

A study from Australia National University provides evidence that the combination of energy drinks with alcohol increases people’s desire to keep drinking more than if they drank alcohol alone. Study authors assigned 75 participants (46 women, 29 men) aged 18 to 30 years were assigned to an alcohol-only group or alcohol + energy drink group. In the double-blind randomised pre- versus posttest experiment, participants received a cocktail containing either 60 ml of vodka and a Red Bull® Silver Edition energy drink (n=36) or 60 ml of vodka with soda water (n=39); both cocktails also contained 200 ml of a fruit drink.

The primary outcome measure was the Alcohol Urge Questionnaire that was taken at pre-test and 20 minutes later at post-test. Other measures taken at post-test were the Biphasic Alcohol Effects Questionnaire, the Drug Effects Questionnaire, and breath alcohol concentration (BAC). The alcohol+energy drink group showed a greater pre- versus posttest increase in the urge to drink alcohol compared with the alcohol-only group. Participants in the alcohol+energy drink group had significantly higher ratings on liking the cocktail and wanting to drink more of the cocktail, and lower BACs, than the alcohol-only condition. When examined at specific BACs, the effect of the energy drink on the pre- to posttest increase in the urge to drink was largest and only significant at BACs of 0.04–0.05. There were no significant differences in stimulation, sedation, feeling the effects of the cocktail, or feeling high.

The authors conclude that combining energy drinks with alcohol increased the urge to drink alcohol relative to drinking alcohol alone. They recommend that more research is undertaken to understand what factors mediate this effect and whether it increases subsequent alcohol consumption. Source: The effect of energy drinks on the urge to drink alcohol in young adults. Rebecca McKetin, Alice Coen. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, published online: 17 Jul 2014.

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