December 4, 2007

Youth, alcohol and energy drinks a dangerous combination, warns MADD Canada

Oakville, Ontario – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada is warning about the increasing consumption by young people of energy drinks in combination with alcohol. These drinks, such as Red Bull, Venom and Adrenalin Rush, typically contain large quantities of caffeine and other stimulants, and are aggressively marketed to youth.

Caffeine and alcohol are both diuretics that can result in life-threatening cases of dehydration, while the energy drink ingredient ephedrine, in combination with caffeine, can trigger heart palpitations and other cardiac problems. However, MADD Canada says the more prevalent concern is that the stimulant in energy drinks masks the patron’s level of impairment; the energy drinks offset some of the symptoms of impairment, but not the impairment itself – creating “wide-awake drunks who believe they are still sober.”

Patrons may stay in the bar and continue to drink alcohol, or may be encouraged to drive, attempt to cross a busy street, or engage in other high-risk activities. A recent study of almost 4,300 American college students reports that a quarter of all students reported having energy drink cocktails in the previous 30 days; compared to those who did not combine energy drinks with alcohol, they were twice as likely to be hurt or injured, to require medical attention, or to travel with a drunk driver.

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