Health authorities warn revellers ahead of St Patrick's Day celebration, of the risk posed by mixing energy drinks with alcohol, and the recent phenomenon of wide-awake drunks. According to the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF), drinking a stimulant like caffeine with an intoxicant would reduce a person's perception of being drunk, but not the impairment.
ADF's national policy manager, Geoff Munro says, Energy drinks mask alcohol's sedative effects. Thus, people who mix the two have a harder time judging how drunk they are and more at risk of alcohol-related harm, he says.
He urges revellers on St Patrick's Day on Wednesday to be wary of mixed drinks like the Jaeger Bomb (Red Bull and Jaegermeister) or the self-explanatory Red Bull and Vodka. There is new evidence of people who consume these mixed concoctions that go on to dangerously underestimating their drunkenness.
The Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand refers to the problem as wide-awake drunks who perceive that they are safe to drive, when in fact they are dangerously impaired.
Mr Munro refers to a recent US study that found energy drinks that mix alcohol and caffeine, placed consumers at a greater risk of sexual abuse, alcohol intoxication, drink-driving or riding with a drink-driver, physical injuries that require medical assistance.
The study showed patrons were three times more likely to leave the bar highly drunk and four times more likely to drink-drive than those who drank alcohol alone. Mr Munro said some responsible venues in Victoria have already removed these risky drinks from their menus and other venues are encouraged to take the same initiative.
Energy drinks carry warning that they contain caffeine, so it's ironic that they don't warn against the potential harm to people who mix the products with alcohol.