The Negative Physiological Effects Associated with
the Combination with Alcohol and Energy Drinks
Jessica Adrielle Teixeira Santos1 and Domingos-Souza Gean2*
1Department of Psychiatric Nursing and Human Sciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil
2Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Missouri, USA
Submission: February 08, 2018;; Published: February 16, 2018
*Corresponding author: Domingos-Souza Gean, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Department of Medical Pharmacology and Physiology, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Missouri, USA, 134 Research Park Drive, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA, Tel: +1 352 815 6797; Email: email@example.com
How to cite this article: Jessica A T S, Domingos-S G. The Negative Physiological Effects Associated with the Combination with Alcohol and Energy
Drinks. Anatomy Physiol Biochem Int J: 2018; 4(2): 555634. DOI: 10.19080/APBIJ.2018.04.555634.
A brief review of the effects of caffeine and energy drinks in combination with alcohol is provided in order to establish a landscape of the theme. Several studies have identified a range of negative physiological effects associated with this combination, including elevated blood pressure, decreased cerebral blood flow velocity, insomnia, nervousness, headache, tachycardia, gastrointestinal disorders, tremor, psychomotor agitation, and psycho physiological alteration of decision-making and impulsivity. However, more studies are needed to better understand the complexity of the damages resulting from this interaction, mainly experimental studies.
Keywords: Physiological effects; Alcohol; Energy drinks
Due to the popularity of energy drinks in the 1980s there was a growing consumption among young people [1,2] who started to use these substances for a variety of reasons, including to improve physical performance, memory, concentration or to alleviate drowsiness [3,4]. However, recent studies raise questions about their interaction with alcohol and their ability to mask the subjective effects of alcoholic beverages, leading young people to overestimate their level of commitment, drink more and favor engagement in risk behaviors [5-8]. In 2006, the global annual consumption of energy drinks increased by 17% over the previous year to 906 million gallons, although Thailand leads the ranking with the highest per capita consumption in the world, and the US leads the highest total sales volume , the consumption of this substance in Brazil has become a notorious public health problem. In the country, it was verified that the university students are quite exposed to this type of consumption. According to the “I National Survey on the Use of Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs among University Students of the 27 Brazilian Capitals,” the energy drink is the substance most frequently associated with alcohol, 74.3% reported use of this mixture in life, 53 % use in the last 12 months and 36% use in the last 30 days .
Evidence alerts the negative physiological effects associated with energy drink, including elevated blood pressure, decreased cerebral blood flow velocity , insomnia, nervousness, headache, tachycardia, gastrointestinal disorders, tremor, psychomotor agitation , and psychophysiological alteration of decision-making and impulsivity [12-14]. Adds to the risks at the individual level, the negative consequences for public health and communities, for example, exposing the population to impaired motor vehicle direction [15,16] or acts aggressive or delinquent. The main components of energy drinks are caffeine, taurine and carbohydrates in the form of sugars, with caffeine being the most abundant ingredient (levels ranging from a minimum of 50 mg to 505 mg per can or bottle.) Caffeine produces psychostimulant effects, acting positively on mood and specifically on psychomotor performance. Caffeine produces psychostimulant effects, acting positively on mood and specifically on psychomotor performance . A study that evaluated the Time of Reaction (TR) - time that a person takes to initiate any movement - discovered greater agility in consumers of high doses of caffeine (>200mg/ day) .
Some of the concerns surrounding this component lie in the
absence of monitoring the marketing of beverages containing this
substance for children and adolescents, even after recognition
of their psychopathological properties recently included in the
fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders – V. A study investigating the use of caffeine among
adolescents found a robust association of violent behaviors and
conduct disorder among those with higher caffeine consumption,
being significantly stronger for girls than boys, both for violent
behaviors and behavior. Another study identified that university
students are the ones who consume energy drinks the most, and
therefore, they present an associated consumption of tobacco,
poor breakfast when they wake up and spend more hours using
the internet .
In contrast to energy drinks, alcohol impairs a wide range
of psychomotor and cognitive tasks, slowing reaction times to
some stimulus, impairing memory formation and increasing
the incidence of errors in routine tasks . Study identified
impairments in the processing of information and tasks of
divided attention, of fundamental importance for everyday life,
especially among adolescents. In the specific case of consumption
associated with energy, a study found that the main reason
for its combined use is the pursuit of pleasure and personal
satisfaction (hedonistic motives), surpassing the social motives
and increasing energy / resistance  which raises concerns
about its potential in developing physiological dependencies.
Alcohol and caffeine are often consumed together because
of the common belief that they have antagonistic effects and
that caffeine has an attenuating effect on alcohol intoxication.
Although this is a reasonably consistent conclusion regarding the
cognitive effects of drugs taken in isolation, there is disagreement
as to the interactions between alcohol and energy drinks. Recent
evidence points to the potential dangers of the interaction of
these substances, such as risk of alcohol dependence, injury
episodes and aggressive experience .
Study compared the effects of two doses of alcohol, one in
combination with energy drink and the other only with alcohol,
found that the energetic beverage reduced the perception of
alcohol damages among its users, although the psychomotor
functions remain unchanged . Another study identified the use
of alcohol and energy drink as a consistent predictor for frequent
use and serious alcohol problems (≥16 in AUDIT), as well as
an increased risk of involvement in motor vehicle accidents
. Considering the long-term effects of this combination, a
study identifies through animal models that repeated exposure
to alcohol mixed with caffeine in young mice causes unique
behavioral and neurochemical effects similar to those caused by
use of cocaine, potentially contributing to a risk of future abuse
as a way to compensate for these behavioral and neurochemical
changes . However, alcohol and energy co-ingestion may result in a pattern of behavior characterized by lack of action
planning, which implies that there is no chance of consciously
considering the consequences of the act [12-14]. This impulsive
behavior can be defined as a propensity for rapid and unplanned
reactions from external or internal stimuli, without taking into
account the negative consequences that can result from actions
for the person or others .
The use of alcohol combined with energy drinks was
associated with several impulsive manifestations among
adolescents. Recent studies have shown that those who used
the mixture were more likely to engage in delinquent behavior,
received poor ratings, consume drugs, engage in risky sexual
activity, be physically injured, frequently use alcohol, risk of
alcohol dependence, and had a history of dangerous driving of
motor vehicle [13,14,19]. Another study with students found that
those who had consumed this combination had a significantly
higher prevalence of alcohol-related consequences, including:
being sexually abused or sexually abusing another student,
being injured or injuring someone .
Despite the intense concern of the scientific community
regarding the simultaneous use of these compounds, further
studies are needed to confirm and better understand the
complexity of the damages resulting from this interaction,
mainly experimental studies.