Whether served as rum and Coke or Irish coffee, caffeine and alcohol have been cocktail companions for decades. However, the mixture is making more than holiday recipe headlines this week, thanks to the regulatory crack down on alcoholic energy drinks such as Four Loko. But, as Time magazine reported in a Nov. 17 article, young people are finding new ways to get their caffeine and their alcohol, too. In fact, a new study shows that “plain old booze-free energy drinks—like Red Bull and Monster”—may even increase the risk of alcohol abuse among teens and college students, Time reported.
When examining the energy drink and alcohol use of more than 1,000 college students, researchers from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins found that those students with high-frequency energy drink consumption were significantly more likely to be dependent on alcohol. The researchers are not sure if the energy drink use is fueling alcohol use or vice versa.
“The possibility cannot be ruled out that heavy drinkers rely on energy drinks to help them function normally throughout the day, as a way of compensating for alcohol-related hangover effects,” the researchers write in the study, which was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.