Mixing energy drinks and alcohol can be a dangerous cocktail. The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks can mask the normal effects of alcohol and have unpredictable effects.
There is limited research available to safely identify how many energy drinks mixed with alcohol can be consumed before health effects occur. When drinking energy drinks (especially with alcohol) consider how many other stimulant drinks you are having and be sure to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Side effects of mixing alcohol with energy drinksMost popular brands of energy drinks are extremely high in caffeine. That’s why you get such a ‘buzz’ after drinking them. Adding alcohol to energy drinks can have greater side effects than just drinking alcohol alone. The danger is that the increased alertness can mask the effects of intoxication, leading to a greater consumption of alcohol over a longer period of time. This increases your level of inebriation. Common side effects of mixing energy drinks with energy drinks include:
- inability to sleep
- heightened hangovers
- impaired judgement
- poor decision making.
What’s in an energy drink?The average energy drink contains approximately 80mg of caffeine which is equivalent to a strong cup of coffee. However, some energy drinks contain vastly more caffeine through the inclusion of natural sources of caffeine such as guarana.
|Percolated coffee||60-120mg / 250ml cup|
|Energy drinks||80mg / 250ml can|
|Instant coffee (1tsp / cup)||60-80mg / 250ml cup|
|Tea||10-50mg / 250ml cup|
|Coca Cola||48.75mg / 375ml can|
|Milk chocolate||20mg / 100g bar|
Did you know?Common reactions to energy drinks include: insomnia, chest palpitations, anxiety, headaches and nausea.
Information in this section has been drawn and adapted from the following sources:
- Lubman, D, Peacock, A, Droste, N, Pennay, A, Miller, P, Bruno, R, Lloyd, B, Hyder, S, Roxburgh, A, Wadds, P, Tomsen, S, & Brown, 2013, Alcohol and energy drinks in NSW: A report prepared for NSW Health, Health, NSW Government. Available form http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mhdao/publications/Publications/alcohol-and-energy-drinks-in-nsw.pdf
- Pennay, A. & Lubman, D, (2011) Alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks: A preliminary study exploring patterns of consumption and associated harms. Fitzroy, Melbourne: Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre.