Two Key Reasons to Explain Why Alcohol mixed with Energy Drinks (AmED) is Riskier Than Alcohol Alone


Consumption of Alcohol mixed with Energy Drinks enhances the desire to drink alcohol.

  1. AmED leads to an elevated desire to drink alcohol for a longer period of time than by just drinking alcohol alone (Marczinski et al., 2013).
  2. Consequences can include binge-drinking and alcohol dependence.

Consumption of AmED leads to disconnect between subjective state and actual behavioral impairment.

  1. Altered subjective states include decreased perceived intoxication, impairment, and sedation (Marczinski & Fillmore, 2003, 2006; Marczinski et al., 2011, 2012).
  2. Consumers of AmED are better able to, and possibly more likely to execute impulsive actions.



So Why Should You Care?

  • The risks of mixing alcohol with energy drinks are significant enough that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, by reviewing in part our laboratory research (Marczinski & Fillmore, 2003, 2006), determined that caffeine was an unsafe food additive when combined with alcohol. This resulted in premixed alcoholic energy drink beverages no longer being sold in the U.S.
  • Decreased perceived intoxication after consuming AmED is thought to be contributing the observed elevated risks of alcohol poisoning, sexual assault, and impaired driving associated with AmED use (O’Brien et al., 2008).
  • Results from U.S. field research have revealed that bar patrons who had consumed AmED were at a 3-fold increased risk of leaving the bar legally intoxicated (BAC > .08 g%) and a 4-fold risk of reporting an intention to drive home while intoxicated, compared to other drinking patrons (Thombs et al., 2010).



Marczinski, C. A., & Fillmore, M. T. (2003). Dissociative antagonistic effects of caffeine on alcohol-induced impairment of behavioral control. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 11, 228-236.

Marczinski, C. A., & Fillmore, M. T. (2006). Clubgoers and their trendy cocktails: Implications of mixing caffeine into alcohol on information processing and subjective reports of intoxication. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 14, 450-458.

O’Brien, M. C., McCoy, T. P., Rhodes, S. D., Magoner, A., & Wolfson, M. (2008). Caffeinated cocktails: Energy drink consumption, high-risk drinking, and alcohol-related consequences among college students. Academic Emergency Medicine, 15, 453-460.

Thombs, D. L., O’Mara, R. J., Tsukamoto, M., Rossheim, M. E., Weiler, R. M., Merves, M. L., & Goldberger, B. A. (2010). Event-level analyses of energy drink consumption and alcohol intoxication in bar patrons. Addictive Behaviors, 35, 325-330.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2010). Caffeinated alcoholic beverages. Retrieved from