The Health Risks of Mixing Alcohol with Stimulants


Beer cans
Using some kind of stimulant to stay up and study all night has always been used by college students. But now mixing alcohol with stimulants to drink more and drink longer has become very popular. Some of the stimulants now being used are prescription drugs and there is a real risk of death when mixing these with alcohol.



Alcohol Stimulant Drink Mix


Putting caffeine into alcoholic drinks is nothing new. A product with the name Four Loko became very popular several years ago with 135 mg of caffeine and 12% alcohol in the same beverage.

After numerous incidents of college students going on a Four Loko drinking binge that resulted in several deaths, many college campuses banned the drink. Finally, fearing FDA (Food and Drug Administration) action, the company Phusion, who makes Four Loko took the caffeine out of their alcoholic drinks. Today the FDA has banned caffeine or herbal stimulants with alcohol in the same beverage.

Having an energy drink with alcohol in the same drink is actually a contradiction, since alcohol is a depressant causing your body to fight the stimulant in the same drink. It is not healthy to force your body in two directions.  

Drinking More Alcohol with Stimulants


A 2010 study conducted in Canada revealed that college students who drank alcohol without taking any type of stimulants drank on average 4.7 drinks. When college students combined an energy drink or stimulant along with the alcohol, they drank an average of 8.6 drinks. Mixing alcohol with stimulants almost doubled the amount of alcohol students drank and that is dangerous [1].

Alcohol and Adderall


Where there is a will there is a way and mixing stimulants with alcohol is not hard to do. It isn’t hard to drink one or two 5-hour energy drinks while drinking alcohol. That is about the same thing as mixing alcohol and caffeine in the same can.

A new craze has college students and teens mixing the prescription drug Adderall and alcohol so they can drink all day and night. Adderall is a prescription drug that is usually prescribed for ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and also narcolepsy. In other words it is a prescription amphetamine, a stimulant.

Of course alcohol has its own side effects and so does Adderall. Adderall has the same side effects that any other stimulant does. Adderall can increase blood pressure which can lead to stroke, heart attack and sudden death.

The Health Risks of Mixing Alcohol with Stimulants


Mixing alcohol with a stimulant like Adderall can mask the effects of alcohol, causing the person drinking alcohol to feel as if they are not drunk and in complete control of their senses and reaction times.

Since Adderall is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, you are pulling your body in two different and opposite directions. Adderall can raise the heart rate and raise blood pressure. Alcohol can also raise blood pressure as well. That is one health risk.

The main health risk that concerns parents and college officials is the fact that teens think they can continue to drink and drink more alcohol while the Adderall or some other stimulant is masking the actual effects of the alcohol.

This can lead to binge drinking which can lead to alcohol poisoning and possible death. You might be thinking this is overly pessimistic, but there are statistics linking college students who had gone out for a night of partying and mixed alcohol with Adderall leading to death by alcohol poisoning.

Alcohol and Stimulants Leads to Death


There have been recent reports of deaths at colleges around the country due to alcohol poisoning where evidence points to mixing alcohol with stimulants. Police found text messages on one student’s cell phone that mentioned trying to buy Adderall and texts that said he wanted to go out and get drunk and do “Addy”. Addy being shorthand for Adderall.

Taking stimulants with alcohol gives a false sense of not being drunk, and that is a major health risk and danger. This also leads to false sense of being in control and driving drunk. The percentage of deadly accidents related to drunk drivers is actually up instead of down considering all of the media attention and police actions trying to stop drunk drivers.

Drinking alcohol with stimulants leads to the false confidence that the alcohol is not affecting the person drinking. But the blood alcohol content (BAC) is still just as high with or without the stimulants.

Passing out is one way the body tells a person, enough alcohol, I can’t take anymore. Fooling the body with stimulants while drinking alcohol is forcing the body to take in more and more alcohol, but the stimulants are not countering what the alcohol is actually doing to a person’s brain and body. This leads to alcohol poisoning, which can lead to death.

Conclusion


Mixing stimulants with alcohol is a very real health risk. It short circuits the body’s defense mechanism and causes a false sense of being sober and alert. Do not fool yourself into thinking stimulants counter alcohol, because they don’t. You are just as drunk and you are putting yourself at risk.

Copyright © 2011 Sam Montana

References

[1] PubMed: PRICE, S. R., HILCHEY, C. A., DARREDEAU, C., FULTON, H. G. and BARRETT, S. P. (2010), Energy drink co-administration is associated with increased reported alcohol ingestion. Drug and Alcohol Review, 29: 331–333. doi: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2009.00163.x

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