Besides classing up your appearance like a an Ed Hardy cap worn backward, energy drinks can also apparently erase any of the potential gains of a college education in the span of just one night.
That's because new research suggests that mixing the likes of Red Bull, Monster or Rockstar with your favorite alcohol can quickly turn your life into a trailer park drama.
The study, published recently in the Journal of Adolescent Health, concludes:
Young people who use energy drinks six or more days a month were more likely than non-energy-drink users to “engage in … unsafe sex,” according to a summary.
Energy drinkers are also three times more likely to be into cigarettes, prescription drugs, and street fighting. Really.
Kathleen E. Miller of the University at Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions surveyed 795 undergrads and found nearly 9 in 10 mixed energy drinks with alcohol. She states:
Energy drink consumption is correlated with substance use, unsafe sexual activity and several other forms of risk-taking.
The study also notes, according to a University at Buffalo report, that …
… the problem is that casual or intoxicated sex can increase the risk of unwanted outcomes, like unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and depression …
One of the reasons that energy drinks can take you down that path, Miller says, is that young people who mix them with booze think that the caffeine, taurine and other stimulants will counteract the effects of the alcohol and keep them alert. Not so, Miller says:
It is widely, but incorrectly, believed that the caffeine in energy drinks counteracts the effects of alcohol, so students will have the energy to party all night without getting as drunk. While the combination may reduce perceptions of intoxication, it does not reduce alcohol-induced impairments of reaction time or judgment.
A majority of energy drink users and abusers are male, she says, and many identify with a macho “jock” culture.
Miller notes, ominously, that many other Western countries, including France, have banned energy drinks. After the downfall of Four Loko's alcoholic-energy formula, we wonder if all energy drinks in America will be next.