Many of us need that jolt of coffee to kick-start our day. Science has backed caffeine since ages for its antioxidant properties but sadly it also increases blood pressure and affects the kidneys.Today’s generation is all about taking risks to a whole new level, not thinking about the effects of alchohol . Many pubs and lounges are offering mixed drinks like ‘caffeinated alcoholic’ beverages, and many health drink companies are making ‘energy drinks’ aimed for the ‘fun loving’ youth. Though they may be a good idea for a fun night, but a concoction of booze and caffeine together may not be such a good idea says a new study.
Consuming such mixed drinks is extremely bad and harmful, as it shows bad effects on the brain. Energy drinks contain almost 10 times the amount of caffeine that is approved by the FDA to be allowed for consumption by adolescent teens. Mixing them with alcohol is bad as it alters the brain activity forever that even lasts into adult life.
In a study conducted by the Purdue University lead by Dr. Richard van Rijn and his team, experiments were conducted on mice that were fed coke mixed with alcohol. Researchers saw significant changes in the parts of the brain that are related with addiction. Similar changes were seen in the mice that were given cocaine. Studies conducted on mice brain produces similar results on human brain.
When one consumes only alcohol, it gives a feeling of happiness. However, when you drink too much, the body knows that you have overconsumed and starts to shut itself down – you feel sleepy so that you don’t harm yourself too much.
The stimulatory effect of an energy drink mixed with booze seems obvious. This study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research can provide some refreshing insight into it. Lead author and psychologist Cecile Marczinski showed how the body shuts down any in-built pathways when one overindulges. For research purposes, volunteers divided into groups were asked to drink plain alcohol, energy – alcohol beverages, energy drinks alone and a non-alcoholic beverage assuming that the group who drank energy- alcohol drinks would also show symptoms of sedation. Much to the surprise of the research team, participants who had energy- alcohol beverages showed twice as much stimulation than with plain alcohol alone.
Also, the researchers discovered that it was not only the caffeine found in the energy drink that was the culprit, but the activation of other ingredients in the beverages as well e.g. glucose, taurine and ginseng which are all stimulatory for the human brain. It was the mixed drink which was harmful.
The reason a concoction of alcohol and caffeine gives such an intense reaction is because both alcohol and caffeine release dopamine – the ‘feel good hormone’ in the brain.Teenage brain is weak & subtle and if it is flooded with high levels of dopamine, they may need higher amounts of it to experience the same ‘high’ later in life due to development of tolerance which makes quitting also tougher.
The heightened stimulation along with impulsivity makes energy-alcohol drinking quite dangerous especially for teenage drinkers who think they can hold their alcohol or still have control over the steering wheel after heavy boozing at a party.
Next party, choose your poison carefully.
- Unique Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects Induced by Repeated Adolescent Consumption of Caffeine-Mixed Alcohol in C57BL/6 Mice Robins MT, Lu J, van Rijn RM (2016) Unique Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects Induced by Repeated Adolescent Consumption of Caffeine-Mixed Alcohol in C57BL/6 Mice. PLoS ONE 11(7): e0158189. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0158189
- Marczinski CA, Fillmore MT, Henges AL, Ramsey MA, Young CR. Effects of energy drinks mixed with alcohol on information processing, motor coordination and subjective reports of intoxication. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology. 2012;20(2):129-138. doi:10.1037/a0026136.