Energized alcohol: not just a fad

By Nick Pitts
February 14, 2008


Aside from the ability to give you wings, college students have found that Red Bull can also give you double vision.

In addition to other ingredients in mixed drinks, energy drinks such as Vault, Amp and Rockstar have been added to the blend.

One of the most popular concoctions includes Red Bull and Vodka.

But do the energy drinks add a whole new dimension of danger to drinking alcohol?

“The mixture of alcohol and energy drinks such as Red Bull and Rockstar give a false sense of security and most people say they do not feel as drunk as they usually would,” athletic trainer Brett VanFleet said. “People just don’t feel as tired.”

As it turns out, alcohol, a depressant, combined with the large amount of caffeine found in energy drinks, has a possibility of being quite dangerous to the consumers health.

“The problem is, the mix wants to do two things,” health services coordinator Sue Fitzgerald said. “Red Bull is a stimulant, as it is high in caffeine. Alcohol, however, is a depressant and wants to slow the central nervous system. Combined, the drink reduces perception of impairment.”

On top of the impairment problems, heart problems are also a serious concern for consumers.

“Because both alcohol and energy drinks are diuretics, both cause fluid loss and together could lead to a major drop in blood pressure,” Fitzgerald said.

Marta Skuza, a sophomore political science and history major and native of Poland has experimented with alcohol and energy drinks in the past.

“I started because I didn’t know it wasn’t safe,” Skuza said. “You don’t feel the alcohol, and it does give a pretty good taste.”

Because of the popularity of the alcohol mixture, specifically with Red Bull, the company actually issued a statement on the issue.

“We say clearly on the label it’s not to be mixed with alcohol,” Jim Bailey, vice president of marketing for Red Bull Canada, said, according to cbc.ca. “How the consumer sort of adapts or interprets the product is in their hands.”

Because of the absence of caffeine, the safest of energy drinks to mix alcohol with would be Gatorade.

“Gatorade is the safest choice to mix alcohol with, because it has no caffeine,” Fitzgerald said. “The real danger is because of the caffeine.”

Despite the dangers and clear warning signs, the trend is not likely to stop overnight.

“I think that Red Bull mixed with vodka is a great combination,” Maria McGuigan, a senior elementary and special education major, said. “It just gives a good taste.”

Skuza however cautions, “It is definitely something that you have to be careful with.”

Nick Pitts

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