Nov 042010
Authors: Robyn Scherer

It’s Saturday night, and you’re out at a party. One of your friends raids the liquor cabinet, and quickly finds a bottle of Jaeger. You open the fridge, and find a Redbull. Hello good time, goodbye health.

I know many of you have had these types of drinks. Some sort of energy drink, usually Red Bull and alcohol, such a Jagermeister, Crown Royal, Vodka or something else. But there is probably something you don’t know about this mix: it can be deadly.

According to a study by Kathleen E. Miller, research scientist at the Research Institute on
Addictions at the State University of New York at Buffalo in June of 2008, “26 percent of surveyed public university undergraduates reported consuming energy drinks mixed with alcohol in the past month, while about half said they’d done so more than once.”

That is a pretty scary statistic. The problem with these drinks is not in the products themselves, but in the way that the body metabolizes them.

“It’s inherently potentially dangerous to mix caffeine and alcohol because you’re sending your body mixed signals,” Miller said.

Energy drinks are an “upper” for your system, and alcohol is a depressant. Why is this a problem? Usually, people slow down their rate of drinking as they get tired. However, if you have had an energy drink, you don’t feel that drowsiness and drink much more than if you had only drank alcohol.

According to WebMd, “College-age drinkers who swill alcoholic energy-drink cocktails are three times more likely than alcohol-only drinkers to leave a bar drunk. What’s more, those imbibing energy cocktails are four times more likely to attempt drunken driving.”

Drunken driving is one of the worst offenses you can commit in my mind, and is the most selfish act you can do. When you get behind the wheel of a vehicle drunk, you are not risking only your own life, but those of others around you.

And this type of drinking is becoming easier and easier to participate in. One of the more recently popular drinks is called Four Loko. The USA Today article also stated, “Four Loko is one of a few flashy, canned drinks that take the mixing out of the equation, making it that much easier for students to get dangerously intoxicated, faster.”

The worst part about this drink? According to the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, Four Loko has “the equivalence of 4.7 standard drinks in a single can.” It’s no wonder that people buy that stuff. At roughly $2.50 per can, it’s a pretty cheap way to drink alcohol.

It’s obvious that many college drinkers don’t drink for quality, but for quantity, with the main goal being to become drunk. This is, not a surprise, pretty unhealthy for you.

“Over consumption of alcohol can lead to nutrient deficiencies, weight gain, and chronic diseases such as liver disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and coronary heart disease,” according to the McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Many of these health problems won’t show up until later in life, when most people are past the heavy drinking stage. Your decisions today regarding alcohol could greatly affect your long-term health.

So what should you do? If you decide to engage in the drinking of drinks that contain energy drinks, be aware of the facts mentioned above. Don’t over consume, even though you will feel like you haven’t had “that much.” Be safe with your drinking.

Never, ever drive drunk. If you aren’t sure you are sober enough to drive, you aren’t. Don’t risk others’ lives because you are too selfish to pay the $10 for a cab. Always remember to have a designated driver, and drink responsibly.

Robyn Scherer is a graduate student studying integrated resource management. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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