Alcohol and Energy Drinks

In recent years, researchers have begun to focus attention on an emerging trend of consuming energy drink mixed with alcohol AmED. Consumption of AmED is thought to have a correlation with high-risk behavior and negative effects on the consumer. Several research articles have examined the various facets of this practice. Some of the points of consideration that have been researched include the motivations behind consuming AmED, the effects of consuming AmED on alcohol consumption and the likelihood of engaging in risk taking behaviors after consuming AmED compared to alcohol alone.
This literature review will examine the following four articles in an attempt to explore this area of research. Energy drinks are beverages that boast the ability to provide the consumer with an increase in energy. Energy drinks frequently contain large amounts of caffeine. The upper daily recommended limits for an adult in regards to caffeine is XXX. Levels of caffeine can be up to 300mg per serving. A 6oz coffee contains 100mg. The caffeine from energy drinks is known to have a stimulating effect on the nervous system. Many brands of energy drinks contain additional chemicals including plant-based stimulants (guarana and yerba mate).
The effect of these on the body is not well understood as there has been little research. Simple sugars such as glucose and fructose are also found in some energy drinks. Other potential ingredients include glucronolacteone (a naturally occurring metabolite), amino acids (taurine, carnitine and creatine), herbs (Ginko Biloba and ginseng) and vitamins. In a research paper by Peacock and Bruno (2012a), patterns of use and motivations behind the consumption of AmED were examined. The focus of this investigation was to examine the motivation of participants to consume AmED through self-reporting techniques in the form of an online questionnaire.

The sample of 400 participants aged 18-35 years who had reportedly consumed AmED in the past 6 months. The results of the study indicated that 75% of participants used AmED for energetic purposes, 50% reporting use to extend their stay at a public venue, 60% claimed they were motivated by situational circumstances, such as mixed drinks containing ED, 40% reported sharing AmED with a companion, 20% used AmED to mask the flavor of alcohol, 50% of the sample reported using AmED to have more fun and only 33% reported consuming
AmED to get more drunk Peacock al et (2012a). In addition to taste and situational reasons, the participants in this study appeared to be motivated by functional and hedonistic outcomes. Only a small number of participants being motivated by the desire to increase the level of drunkenness or experience similar effects to elicit drugs. A study conducted by O’Brian, McCoy, Rohdes, Wagoner and Wolfson (2008), where by responses from 4,271were recorded via a web based survey.
Participants who consumed AmED in the past 30 days reported consuming significantly more alcohol in a typical drinking session as well as reporting more drinking sessions than those who did not consume AmED O’Brian et al. (2008). AmEd consumers also reported episodes of weekly drunkenness and among the sample who reported consuming AmED a single drinking session consumed 36% more than students who didn’t not report consumption of AmEd.
The results of Peacock et al. (2012b) indicate that although risk taking behaviors occurred during sessions of consumption of both alcohol and risk taking behavior that occurred with AmED was statistically less than the risk taking behaviors that occurred in alcohol alone sessions. However consumption of AmEd did result in higher negative physiological and psychological outcomes than those reported from consuming alcohol. Verster, Aufricht and Alford (2012), conducted a review of articles of articles relating to the consumption of AmED.
It was revealed through a critique of multiple correlational studies that there are currently insufficient properly controlled studies to draw any firm conclusions regarding the effects of AmED. Conclusions reached in their report were that only a minority of the student population occasionally consumes AmED Vester (2012). Research also suggested some evidence that AmED may result in an increase in some aspects of alcohol- induced performance impairment.
There is no consistent evidence that alcohol alters perceived levels of intoxication, no evidence that consumption of ED causes an increase in alcohol consumption, no direct evidence exists to suggest that ED is linked to drug and alcohol dependence or abuse. A personality predisposed to higher levels of risk taking behavior may be the primary reason for increasing alcohol and drug abuse and that AmED may be a component of that lifestyle. The literature available relating to AmED consumption is insufficient.
Presently there is an insufficient amount of evidence to link the consumption of AmED to an increase in risk taking behavior, increase in consumption of alcohol or negative effects on health. To understand the true effects of AmED further research is required. To draw more concrete conclusions about the effect of AmED there is a need for more complex and properly controlled clinical studies need to be undertaken. Research design needs to explore relationships with a within subject design whereby the relationship between the ingestion of AmED and the consumption of alcohol is further explored and documented.

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