Energy drinks, alcohol, and sex

A recent study published in the Journal of Caffeine Research found that American college students who drink alcohol mixed with energy drinks (caffeinated beverages) are more likely to engage in casual sex. Popular energy drinks such as Red Bull and Amp are combined with vodka, Jagermeister, or other liquors.

According to Kathleen E. Miller, a senior research analyst at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions says that, “caffeine makes it more difficult to assess drunkenness.”

The study shows that when students combine alcohol with energy drinks leads, they are less decisive about sexual encounters. Energy drinks increase cravings for another drink, and consequently college students end up drinking more alcohol than they would without using an energy drink as a mixer.

According to US News and World Report, “The research doesn’t prove that drinking energy drinks with alcohol causes drunkenness and promiscuity.” However, Miller,¬†“hopes the findings lead to safety legislation or educational campaigns.”

2 Responses to “Energy drinks, alcohol, and sex”

  1. Edwin Bonilla Says:

    I don’t care if college students who drink alcohol with caffeine have more sex if they have a condom. Kathleen E. Miller is correct about how alcohol with caffeine makes people more unable to know how drunk they are compared to alcohol without caffeine. There is no reason to push for safety legislation for alcohol with caffeine because college students have more sex. If there are bills for alcohol with caffeine, then the reason should be for the amount of caffeine and alcohol in a drink.

  2. Ajax the Great Says:

    (Taken in abbreviated form from my blog, Twenty-One Debunked)

    The latest moral panic involving young people and alcohol is the idea that alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AMEDs for short) increases the odds of casual sex and/or drunk sex. It was inevitable that this moral panic, like all others in history, would eventually be about sex. But is it true?

    A correlation was found between AMEDs and engaging in casual sex and being drunk during their most recent sexual encounter. However, that correlation does not necessarily prove a causal relationship, especially since it is a cross-sectional study. Even the author of the study acknowledges that. And one bright spot of the study was that consuming AMEDs did not affect the likelihood of the students using condoms during their most recent sexual encounter.

    A recent review of the scientific literature on the topic of AMEDs suggests that the dangers have been greatly exaggerated. After surveying numerous studies of the effects of combining the two beverages, the authors concluded that there was, contrary to popular opinion:

    1) virtually no hard evidence that adding energy drinks to the mix significantly alters the behavioral effects of alcohol
    2) no reliable evidence that energy drinks significantly affect the perceived level of intoxication by drinkers
    3) zero evidence that mixing energy drinks with alcohol increases the odds of alcohol or drug abuse or dependence, and
    4) no significant adverse health effects for healthy individuals from combining energy drinks and alcohol in moderation.

    Of course, it should go without saying that both alcohol and energy drinks, alone or in combination, can indeed be harmful when consumed to excess. Also, one should always remember that caffeine (in energy drinks or otherwise) does not make a drunk person less impaired or more able to drive. The best take-home message from all this is that moderation is the key.

    One should also note that despite the explosion in energy drinks (and mixing them with alcohol) over the past decade, teen pregnancy has recently reached a record low, and surveys do not show an increase in sexual activity among teenagers or young adults in the past 10-20 years (in fact they generally show decreases). Thus, the fears of this moral panic appear to be largely unfounded. But it’s still wise for drinkers to always carry condoms with them on their nights out, just in case.

    And Edwin is right that simply having more sex, whether the effect is real or not, does NOT imply that there needs to be more laws added to the books about what substances we may choose to put into our bodies. In a free society, those decisions (at least for legal adults) are up to the individual, not the state. And those that can’t handle living in a free society should take advantage of the best freedom we have to offer–the freedom to leave.