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Energy drinks could heighten risk of drink driving, study warns

30 September 2016

Consuming energy drinks may put you at risk of drink driving, a study has found. The findings showed that consuming highly caffeinated energy drinks in combination with alcohol may increase such risks.

Many young people consume energy drinks with alcohol to decrease alcohol's sedative effects and stay awake longer, enabling them to drink more alcohol, said Amelia Arria from the University of Maryland, US.

In the study, the researchers differentiated between the different ways in which energy drinks are consumed: exclusively with alcohol, exclusively without alcohol, or both with and without alcohol depending on the occasion.

They looked at data from a longitudinal study of 1,000 college students (550 females, 450 males) assessed annually via personal interviews. The participants self-reported their past-year frequency of drink driving, energy drinks consumption patterns, alcohol use, and other caffeine consumption.

Results indicated that energy drinks consumption was present in 57 per cent of students, 9 per cent drank energy drinks exclusively with alcohol, 16 per cent drank energy drinks without alcohol, and 32 per cent drank energy drinks both with and without alcohol depending on the occasion.

More frequent energy drinks consumption was associated with more frequent drink driving through two distinct pathways. First, consuming energy drinks with alcohol was associated with heavier alcohol drinking and thereby with more frequent drink driving. The second said that consuming energy drinks without alcohol contributed to additional risk for drink driving, regardless of alcohol drinking patterns.

The second path suggests that mechanisms other than the promotion of heavy drinking by energy drinks are involved in promoting drink driving, the researchers said in the paper published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Parents, clinicians, and college administrators should regard any style of energy drinks consumption, whether with or without alcohol, as a warning sign that students might be at high risk for alcohol-related consequences such as drink driving, the authors suggested.


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