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Alcohol and Caffeine: Young Adults at High Risk

Energy drinks were introduced to the Canadian population back in 1997, and in 2000 pre-mixed alcoholic beverages entered the market and have been on an upward trend in sales. Caffeinated alcoholic beverages are drinks that combine both caffeine and alcohol and are most often found in the form of energy drinks. They can be found to be pre-mixed and sold in liquor stores or are hand mixed by the consumer.

Based on survey data, it’s estimated that one in four young adults in university consumed this form of beverage in the last 30 days. Caffeinated alcoholic beverages pose a huge health risk to youth and young adults who consume them. When alcoholic beverages are mixed with energy drinks, a variety of risks come into play including:

  • The caffeine in the drink can mask the depressant effect of alcohol
  • Caffeine has no effect on the metabolism of alcohol by the liver which doesn’t reduce breath alcohol concentrations or reduce the risk of alcohol-attributable harms.
  • Drinkers who consume alcohol with energy drinks are about twice as likely as drinkers who do not report mixing alcohol with energy drinks to report being taken advantage of sexually, to report taking advantage of someone else sexually, and to report riding with a driver who was under the influence of alcohol.
  • Be hurt or injured and require medical attention
  • Drink more alcohol without realizing they’re intoxicated because the caffeine keeps them awake longer

Recognition of the danger of caffeinated alcoholic beverages by various government and health associations has prompted several policies to be created to address the issue. In 2009, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) imposed a cap of 30 mg of caffeine per serving on all products sold in Ontario containing

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