MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Jennifer A. Emond, M.Sc., PhD
Department of Epidemiology
Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College
Cancer Control Research Program
Lebanon, NH 03756
Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Several studies have documented a link between consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks and an increased risk of negative outcomes while drinking, including binge drinking. It is known that mixing energy drinks with alcohol increases the risk for binge drinking--the high caffeine intake consumed when mixing energy drinks with alcohol may cause individuals to feel what is been called "wide-awake drunk," and they may underestimate their level of intoxication. However, most studies to date have been conducted among undergraduate college students, and we wanted to know if those same associations were also observed among adolescents. In our study of 3,342 adolescents and young adults between the ages of 15-23, we also found a positive link between a history of consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks and abusive alcohol
use. Specifically, 22.3% of participants had ever consumed an energy drink mixed with alcohol (including 9.7% of 15-17 year olds), and such a history of mixed use was associated with a more than 4-fold increased likelihood of engaging in binge drinking. Importantly, that association was just as strong among 15-17 year olds as it was among the older participants. One critical component of our study was that we also looked at a validated outcome for alcohol use disorder (i.e., the participants completed the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test [AUDIT]), and participants with a history of consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks were also 4.2 times more likely to meet that clinically defined criteria for alcohol use disorder as defined for adolescents. Again, those associations were observed for all participants, regardless of age.
Our study has limitations. It was cross-sectional, so we cannot prove that mixed use of alcohol and energy drinks causes abusive alcohol use behaviors. However, our study does support that mixed use of alcohol with energy drinks can identify adolescents at risk for alcohol abuse. (more…)