Alcohol and energy drinks, combination with risks

Energy drinks are a real gold mine for their suppliers. That is why market leader Red Bull can spend more than half a billion euros annually on sports sponsorship, such as for the Formula 1 circus or the parachute jump from space, which was massively publicized by the media in 2012. These caffeine drinks are all the rage, especially when mixed with alcohol, but they are not without risk.

The caffeine content of energy drinks

Apart from disproportionate sponsorship activities, sports-related marketing, but also because of the high price, Red Bull and other so-called energy drinks are hardly worth wasting too many words about. In addition to caffeine, they also contain substances such as the caffeine-containing Guarana, the amino acid Taurine, sugar or alternative sweeteners.

How market leader Red Bull circumvents regulations

The caffeine content of a 250 ml can of Red Bull is approximately equivalent to a cup of filter coffee (80 mg). The manufacturer therefore complies with the regulations in force in several countries since 2012 that energy drinks may not contain more than 32 mg caffeine and 400 mg taurine per 100 ml.
But such regulations are also cleverly circumvented: for example, Red Bull does not label its “energy shot” with 80 mg caffeine in 60 ml (which still equals 133 mg caffeine per 100 ml) as an energy drink, but completely legally as food supplement. Such a “shot” is swallowed down in one go. The verbal similarity to a high-percent drink, which is also consumed in one sip, cannot be a coincidence.

Alcohol and energy drink

Mixed drinks of energy drinks plus spirits with a high percentage of alcohol are becoming increasingly popular. As a ready-made mix in bright colors or as a cocktail with fantasy names such as Powerretto. But such mixtures have one thing in common: because their caffeine content counteracts the generally fatiguing effect of alcohol, the amount of alcohol consumed is easily underestimated and therefore more alcohol is consumed than usual.
Caffeine appears to improve the reduced reaction time somewhat, at least with moderate alcohol consumption. However, this is not a plus because it can easily create a misplaced sense of security. The chance of making wrong decisions, which increases with the alcohol level in the blood, is not reduced by energy drinks.

Energy drink increases the feeling of overconfidence

Alcoholic cocktails mixed with energy drinks can even increase risk taking, overconfidence and aggressive behavior, all of which pose significant risks on public roads. According to a study among students, those who have drunk energy alcohol cocktails are twice as likely to want to get behind the wheel themselves, despite a significant alcohol cone, compared to those who have drunk alcohol without a caffeine mix.

Increased risk of fatal side effects

Even sudden deaths have been linked to energy drinks, some of them associated with serious cardiac arrhythmias. Epileptic seizures and kidney failure also occur. People with cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or people who react particularly strongly to caffeine are at particular risk. Especially physical loads such as dancing all night on energy drinks can prove to be a dangerous combination.
Although the number of such suspicious deaths is relatively small, it must be assumed that fatal side effects associated with energy drinks are only reported to the authorities in exceptional cases.

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