Mixing Alcohol and Caffeine
For example, a drink often ordered at bars is a Red Bull mixed with a hard liquor such as vodka. There are also alcoholic drinks that are pre-mixed with caffeine, and coffee drinks that are mixed with alcohol such as espresso martinis, which are trendy right now.
So what’s the deal with alcohol and caffeine? Are there things to know about the alcohol with coffee effects & dangers? Is it risky to mix alcohol and caffeine?
Caffeine is considered a natural stimulant, and it’s known to have both possible health risks and benefits.
When you consume coffee, it stimulates your central nervous system and brain, so you feel more awake, and 90% of American adults consume something with caffeine each day.
When you have caffeine, it goes from your bloodstream to your liver, where it’s broken down into other compounds.
There are a few risks of caffeine, but usually only when it’s consumed in excess. For example, caffeine may contribute to migraines and high blood pressure in some people as well as increasing the risk of anxiety and insomnia.
Caffeine can block the effect of the neurotransmitter adenosine, which is what makes you feel tired, and that’s why it helps you feel less sleepy and more alert. Caffeine also has the potential to boost levels of adrenaline in your blood and boost brain activity. In some ways, particularly since it affects your brain, caffeine is considered a psychoactive drug.
Caffeine, along with helping you feel less sleepy, can be beneficial to your health. For example, it may be able to help you have better brain functionality, and it can reduce your risk of depression. Having caffeine in moderation, in the form of coffee, may also help reduce the risk of certain brain diseases like Alzheimer’s as well, and it can help protect against heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. This isn’t even an exhaustive list of the ways that caffeine and in particular coffee, can be beneficial, but what about alcohol and caffeine?
It’s recommended that you don’t mix alcohol and caffeine. The reason alcohol and caffeine can be harmful when mixed is because caffeine can hide the depressant effects of alcohol. You may feel more alert than you would otherwise when drinking, and then you might not realize just how impaired you truly are. If you’re more intoxicated than you realize, it can put you at risk for any number of things, including being in an accident or drinking so much that you become ill or experience alcohol poisoning.
If there was a “worst” kind of caffeine to pair with alcohol, it’s from energy drinks. Energy drinks are harmful on their own and pairing them with alcohol is a recipe for danger. Research has shown that with alcohol and caffeine from energy drinks, drinkers are more likely to engage in risky behaviors including having unprotected sex or riding with a drunk driver.
Alcohol and caffeine also have oppositional effects on the brain and the body. Alcohol is a sedative which means it slows down the central nervous system and brain processes. This is why people who drink may feel calmer or more relaxed. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a stimulant. This is why high doses can cause side effects like anxiety and nervousness.
Both alcohol and caffeine increase dopamine levels, however.
When someone mixes alcohol and caffeine, it can keep them alert enough to drink for longer periods of time, and it can lead to blood alcohol levels that are nearly lethal, along with a false sense of security that was touched on above.
Also, both alcohol and caffeine are addictive substances, and it’s possible that if you combine them the risk of alcoholism developing is higher.
Have more questions about Alcohol abuse?Read the most frequently asked questions
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