When it comes to drunkenness, caffeine does not help

February 17, 2011 by  
Filed under ADDICTION

A strong cup of black coffee is not an antidote to alcohol intoxication. Neither are 2 cups. Or even three. Of a caffeine-rich energy drink for that matter.

Caffeine is known as a stimulant that can keep you awake and boost performance. The popular use of caffeinated energy drinks among young people during exams week attest to this.

However, the notion that caffeine is an effective antidote to the sedating effect of alcohol is completely wrong.

The appearance of caffeinated alcoholic beverages (CAB) in the market is causing concerns among health experts. Several manufacturers recalled their CAB products following FDA warnings last year but the practice of mixing caffeine with alcohol has not abated. It is as easy as simply mixing their own cocktail.

According to researcher Dr. Jonathan Howland of the Department of Community Health Sciences and Department of Emergency Medicine, Boston University:

“Although several manufacturers of caffeinated beer have withdrawn their products from the market, there is no sign that young people have decreased the practice of combining alcohol and energy drinks. Critically, CABs may increase alcohol-related risks in a number of different domains, but have been subject to very little systematic research.”

Risky behavior has been attributed to this dangerous mixture including intoxicated driving (either as driver or passenger), committing and being a victim of sexual assault and having an alcohol related injury or accident.

In order to clarify once and for all the belief that caffeine blunts the effect of alcohol, thus allowing one to drink and drive, the researchers tested 129 people ages 21 to 30 drink alcohol with or without caffeine. After 30 minutes, they were tested on a driving simulator. The results showed that all drinkers were not fit enough to drive – regardless whether they had taken caffeine or not. The take home message, according to Dr. Howland, is:

“If you’re intoxicated – whether you have caffeine or not – you shouldn’t be driving. Your performance really falls apart.”

Let us hope we can get the message across!

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.