Effects of alcohol and energy drink on mood and subjective intoxication: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study

Authors

  • Sarah Benson,

    1. Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Andrew Scholey

    Corresponding author
    1. Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
    • Correspondence to: Professor A. Scholey, Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, Melbourne, VIC 3122, Australia. Tel: +61 392 148 932; Fax: +61 392 145 230 E-mail: andrew@scholeylab.com

    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

Objective

There is concern that combining energy drinks with alcohol may ‘mask’ subjective intoxication leading to greater alcohol consumption. This study examines the effects of alcohol alone and combined with energy drink on objective and subjective intoxication and mood over the course of 3 h.

Method

Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, balanced, crossover design, 24 participants (mean age 22.23 years) were administered with double placebo, 0.6 g/kg alcohol (mean peak blood alcohol content of 0.051%), 250 ml energy drink and alcohol/energy drink, according to a Latin square design, with a washout of >48 h. On each visit, they were breathalysed and rated themselves on a comprehensive battery of mood items at baseline and then at 45, 90 and 180 min post-drink.

Results

Blood alcohol and subjective intoxication were significantly increased following both alcohol alone and alcohol/energy drink. Both measures were statistically indistinguishable between alcohol conditions. In keeping with its (80 mg) caffeine content, the energy drink alone significantly increased self-rated ‘alertness’ and reduced ‘depression–dejection’ scores compared with the combined alcohol/energy drink. The alcohol/energy drink increased ‘vigor’ and ‘contentment’ at 45 min and decreased ‘contentment’ at 180 min.

Conclusions

The co-ingestion of an energy drink with alcohol does not differently influence blood alcohol content recordings or subjective intoxication compared with alcohol alone, although some mood items are differentially affected. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ancillary