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Adolescent health

March 2011

FocusAdolescent health

Combining energy drinks and alcohol

A recipe for trouble?

Volume 40, No.3, March 2011 Pages 104-107

Combining energy drinks and alcoholAmy Pennay BA (Hons), PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Health & Society, School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne & Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, Turning Point, Eastern Health, Melbourne, VIC

Dan I Lubman BSc(Hons), MBChB, PhD, FRANZCP, FAChAM, is Director and Professor of Addiction Studies, Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre, Eastern Health and Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria.

Peter Miller PhD(Sociology), BA(Hons), is Senior Research Fellow, School of Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria.

Background

Combining energy drinks (such as ‘Red Bull®’) with alcohol is becoming increasingly popular, particularly among young people. However, as yet, limited research has been conducted examining the harms associated with this form of drinking.

Objective

To review current evidence associated with combining energy drinks with alcohol and provide recommendations for addressing this issue within primary care.

Discussion

Combining alcohol with energy drinks can mask the signs of alcohol intoxication, resulting in greater levels of alcohol intake, dehydration, more severe and prolonged hangovers, and alcohol poisoning. It may also increase engagement in risky behaviours (such as drink driving) as well as alcohol related violence. General practitioners should be aware of the harms associated with this pattern of drinking, and provide screening and relevant harm reduction advice.

Energy drinks, such as ‘Red Bull®’ and ‘V’, are beverages that are designed to provide a boost of energy or enhance alertness.1,2 Red Bull® was the first energy drink to be released and was introduced into Europe in 1987. Since then, the number of available energy drinks has increased to over 500 brands worldwide,3–5 with sales exceeding $500 million per annum in the United States of America.6

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Correspondence afp@racgp.org.au

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Topics

Drug and Alcohol

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Focus