Mixing caffeine and alcohol is a bad idea. Although the FDA has cracked down on caffeinated alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko–both because they found these drinks were unsafe and because the makers were marketing them to teens–mixing caffeine and alcohol is still common practice, especially among binge drinkers. Adding caffeine and other stimulants to alcohol helps keep the party going, but at a potentially high cost. The biggest problem with mixing caffeine and alcohol is that caffeine masks the effects of alcohol. This is, essentially what the drinkers want. Instead of falling asleep on the couch at 11 p.m., they want to party all night. However, the tendency for alcohol to put you to sleep also keeps you out of trouble. Your body signals you when you’ve had too much to drink and it’s time to stop. Alcohol is, in a way, self-limiting. If you add caffeine into the mix to obscure that feedback, you are at greater risk of drinking too much. In the worst case, this increases your risk of alcohol poisoning, which slows your breathing and heart rate and lowers your body temperature. Alcohol poisoning can be fatal and it kills more than 2200 Americans every year. Even if you don’t die of alcohol poisoning, you may suffer other negative effects. People who mix alcohol and caffeine often don’t realize how intoxicated they are, since tiredness is typically a strong signal of how much you’ve had to drink. They may underestimate how impaired their judgment and coordination are, making them more likely to drive drunk or take other foolish risks. One study found that people who mixed caffeine and alcohol were four times more likely to drive home drunk. Unfortunately, the idea that caffeine sobers you up is not true at all and feeling less drunk does not make you more capable. What’s more, staying awake longer because of the caffeine increases the time you have to do something foolish, while continually diminishing your capacity to realize it’s foolish. This has been shown to lead to more drunk driving and risky sex. Since adding caffeine to alcohol increases your rate of binge drinking, you also increase the risk of all the negative effects of binge drinking. This includes alcohol poisoning, as mentioned above, as well as blackouts, impaired immunity, and other health consequences. Also, there have been few studies investigating the physiological effects of mixing caffeine and alcohol. Both alcohol and caffeine increase heart rate and blood pressure, so if you frequently mix the two, it may strain your cardiovascular system more than either by itself.
If you or someone you love is struggling with alcohol addiction or mental illness, we can help. Recovery Ways is a premier drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility located in Salt Lake City, Utah. We have the resources to effectively treat a dual diagnosis. Our mission is to provide the most cost-effective, accessible substance abuse treatment to as many people as possible. Request information online or call us today at 1-888-986-7848.