Combining alcohol and Red Bull reduces the 'perception' of impairment

  • Study results show that drinking alcohol and Red Bull together significantly reduces the perception of headache, weakness, dry mouth and impairment of motor coordination.
  • Red Bull does not, however, significantly reduce alcohol-related deficits on objective measures of motor coordination and visual reaction time.
  • People who combine alcohol with energy drinks may be at even greater risk for problems such as automobile accidents because they believe they are unimpaired.

The combined use of alcohol and "energy drinks" such as Red Bull have become increasingly popular among youth and young adults in recent years. Users often report reduced sleepiness and increased sensations of pleasure. In the April issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Brazilian researchers conduct the first controlled scientific study on the effects of combining alcohol with Red Bull. Results show a considerable disconnect between subjects' perceptions and objective measures of their abilities: although combined use reduces the sensation of tiredness and sleepiness, actual capabilities are significantly impaired.

"In Brazil, as in other countries, young people believe that Red Bull and other energy drinks avoid the sleepiness caused by alcoholic beverages and increase their capacity to dance all night," explained Maria Lucia O. Souza-Formigoni, associate professor in the department of psychobiology at the Federal University of So Paulo in Brazil and corresponding author for the study. "In fact, many night clubs offer this mix among their cocktails."

In a previous study on the use of energy drinks among Brazilians, Souza-Formigoni said that users reported greater happiness (38%), euphoria (30%), uninhibited behavior (27%), and increased physical vigor (24%). It is unclear, however, if this indicates the ability of energy drinks to reduce the depressant effects, increase the excitatory effects of


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