Alcoholic energy drink sales have increased by 300 per cent: report

Carolyn Morris
Shine On
May 28, 2012

Energy drinks may give you wings, but researchers concerned about your health are trying to find ways to clip those wings.

"If you're an alcoholic-energy-drink consumer, you're more likely to drink and drive, and be involved in violence and risky sexual behaviours," says Timothy Stockwell, University of Victoria psychology professor and director of the university's Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia.

And this is even when controlled for risk-taking personality styles, he insists.

Stockwell co-authored a recent report on this problem mixture, in collaboration with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

The report shows that the sales of pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks jumped by almost 300 per cent from 2005 to 2010.

And it seems the biggest consumers are young adults. The report states that use among young adults is around four or five times higher than among the general population above 15 years old.

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That's just the tip of the iceberg, with many consumers opting to do the mixing themselves. This can be even more hazardous since some energy drinks have a lot more caffeine than the typical pre-mixed variety.

A small online survey of 465 University of Victoria students showed that 23 per cent had consumed a caffeinated alcoholic drink over the past 30 days. The majority of those consumers mixed the uppers and downers on their own.

With the caffeine stimulating the nervous system, consumers can keep drinking, and partying, for longer.

"You lose fear of the consequences from drinking a lot, then you get the energy to act on that lack of fear," says Stockwell. "It's a real double whammy."

One that can be highly addictive, he adds.

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The report calls for increasing the price of pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks and upping the labeling requirements. It also warns that any ban on pre-mixed drinks would have to be accompanied by policies and programs aimed at discouraging consumers from simply mixing their own such beverages.

And Stockwell throws in another recommendation.

"A fairly radical suggestion would be to ban the sale of energy drinks in bars," he says, "so you'd get sleepier drunks, rather than very energetic ones causing mayhem when they leave."

Watch the video below about an unconventional boarding school in the U.S. that has a radical weight-loss curriculum alongside academics.

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