Vodka Red Bull, it’s the drink of choice for pretty much all underage drinkers and for good reason.
It’s sweet AF, easy to drink and it will almost certainly guarantee you being able to stay up for the entirety of a night without taking any other illicit substances.
But who’d have guessed that a drink that will give you steady resting heart rate of 220bpm isn’t amazingly good for you?
This is the news that alcohol mixed with any energy drink can be as bad for young people as cocaine, researchers claim.
The study by Professor Richard van Rijn of Purdue University in the U.S. found that mixing energy drinks with alcohol such as vodka affects their brain in a startlingly similar way to the Class A drug.
And what was most troubling about the study was that the affects can last into adulthood, manipulating their ability in dealing with rewarding substances like drink and drugs.
In his experiments, Professor Van Rijn found that adolescent mice given the energy drinks were not more likely than a control group to drink more alcohol as adults.
But when those high levels of caffeine were mixed with alcohol, they showed physical and neurochemical signs similar to mice given cocaine.
Professor Van Rijn said:
It seems the two substances together push them over a limit that causes changes in their behaviour and changes the neurochemistry in their brains. We are clearly seeing effects of the combined drinks that we would not see if drinking one or the other.
The most shocking thing about the study, however, found that if those that drink alcohol with energy drinks regularly used cocaine later on would need even more of the drug to feel the affects.
Professor Van Rijn explained:
Mice that had been exposed to alcohol and caffeine were somewhat numb to the rewarding effects of cocaine as adults. Mice that were exposed to highly caffeinated alcoholic drinks later found cocaine was not as pleasurable. They may then use more cocaine to get the same effect. Their brains have been changed in such a way they are more likely to abuse natural or pleasurable substances as adults.
One of the most iconic energy drinks, Red Bull, declined to comment on the research (no surprise there), but the British Soft Drinks Association replied on their behalf.
In a statement, they said:
There is no indication that energy drinks have any specific effect (negative or positive) on adults or teenagers related to alcohol consumption. Last year the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that it is unlikely that caffeine interacts adversely with energy drinks or with alcohol. However, anybody drinking alcohol should do so in moderation, whether or not it’s mixed with an energy drink.
Either way, it’s probably still a good idea for us all to chill with mixing energy drinks and alcohol- it’d be ridiculous to say we didn’t see this coming!