Muir Wood therapist, David Laing
Muir Wood Adolescent and Family Services is a Joint Commission-accredited mental health and substance use disorder treatment provider located in Petaluma, California. We provide integrated evidence-based care including psychiatry, psychotherapy, experiential therapy, wellness services, and milieu therapy for adolescents and teens, and their family members.

Choice of Beverage Increases Dangerous Effects of Alcohol

The choice in mixer can increase the danger inherent to alcohol abuse in teens, says a CBS News report. Both diet soda and energy drinks have been determined to increase the effects of alcohol, but energy drinks have been identified as specifically hazardous for teens because mixing the drinks with liquor is a popular choice among today’s youth.

Effects of Energy Drinks With Alcohol

Why do energy drinks increase the dangers of drinking alcohol? In addition to the negative acute effects of alcohol (e.g., dulled response and reaction, confusion, decreased inhibition), energy drinks can cause a number of health risks, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Disrupted sleep
  • Anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity

Also, the stimulant effect of the drink counters the depressant effect of the alcohol, which means that teens don’t experience the usual signs of inebriation as quickly. Kids may end up drinking more because they don’t feel drunk—toxic amounts—and when the effects of the energy drink wear off, the buildup of alcohol in their systems can become overwhelming. The drink can also increase the effects of the alcohol. In fact, the report says that a single alcoholic beverage made with an energy drink can have an effect equal to drinking a bottle of wine and a small pot of coffee.

Dr. Kwabena Blankson is a US Air Force major, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA, and lead author of a study on the subject of teen use of energy drinks and alcohol published in Pediatrics in Review. About energy drinks, he says, “They contain too much caffeine and other additives that we don’t know enough about. Healthy eating, exercise, and adequate sleep are better ways to get energy.”

Energy Drink + Alcohol = Harm to Teens

Research authors recommend that teens ingest less than 100 milligrams of caffeine in a day and avoid energy drinks altogether because other ingredients like sugar and ginseng increase the stimulant effect.

Additionally, a report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration noted that the number of emergency room visits caused by ingesting energy drinks doubled between 2007 and 2011.

If your son is drinking alcohol at all, it’s an issue that should be addressed through rehabilitation that is teen-specific. If your son is drinking alcohol combined with energy drinks, don’t postpone your inquiries into effective treatment. At Muir Wood, we’re here to help. Contact us today for more information or download an enrollment packet now.