Alcohol and caffeine make one dangerous mixture

By Rachel Riggs
On November 9, 2012

  • Freshman Sawyer Ricard will take over the Ram Page as the new Editor-In-Chief for 2012-2013. Pam Belcher

A dangerous trend of mixing energy drinks with alcoholic beverages has prompted ASU's Health Services to post pamphlets and posters around campus that educate students on how to drink carefully.  

 People who partake in this trend think the overly caffeinated energy drink will offset the effects of the alcohol and provide a better drinking experience, said David Rosipal, Special Events and Student Health Insurance associate director.   

According to a document released by Health Services, the combination of energy drinks with alcohol is dangerous because energy drinks are a stimulant and the alcohol is a depressant. A stimulant is a substance that raises levels of physiological or nervous activity in the body, and a depressant is a substance that reduces functional or nervous activity.  

According to the document "the stimulant effects can mask how intoxicated you are and prevent you from realizing how much alcohol you have consumed. Fatigue is one of the ways the body normally tells someone that they've had enough to drink."

The energy drink gives drinkers impaired senses of when they have reached their limit, Rosipal said.

This trend may lead people to drink amounts of alcohol they normally could not handle because of the caffeine in the energy drink, he said.

"Students think, 'Hey, I feel good. I can drink all night,' but their blood alcohol level is still the same when mixed with energy drinks," Rosipal said.

Freshman Danelle Montoya said that educating students on how to drink safely is important because drinking happens all around the college lifestyle.  

"If students do not know the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks, they will succumb to these dangers," Montoya said. "Students will stop to read posters and pamphlets if they look catchy, but it depends on the student and whether they want to listen."

According to the document, since energy drinks and alcohol are both diuretics - substances that elevate the rate of urination - mixing them causes a more painful hangover compared to drinking alcohol by itself because the body becomes more dehydrated.

"When the energy drink goes away and you crash, you are still left with an alcohol hangover, Rosipal said. "[energy drinks] doesn't do anything to help you with that. You are still living with the effects of all that alcohol you drank."

This crash could be especially harmful to women, Rosipal said.

"It would be almost like them giving themselves a date rape drug," Rosipal said. "It could expose a young woman to dangers that she normally wouldn't have exposed herself to."

Impaired judgment at the result of mixing energy drinks and alcohol affects both men and women by giving them a false sense of confidence behind the wheel.

"Even if you feel super-human, you are still not super-human behind the wheel," Rosipal said. "You are still dangerous. You still have the ability to become a killer behind the wheel."

If students have questions about mixing alcohol and energy drinks, or health questions in general, they are encouraged to pick up a pamphlet in the University Center, stop by the clinic, call at (325) 942-2021 or stop by Rosipal's office in room 201 in the UC.

"I am constantly on the web looking at current issues to provide material for issues that I think will help people," Rosipal said. "I think there is an effort every day to advance health on the ASU campus."

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