Engaging young people in advocacy, education & prevention
Creating social change around alcohol, drugs, and more

A Sign of the Times

March 10, 2010 4:32 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Thousand Oaks has become the first city in Ventura County to adopt a signage campaign warning of the dangers of energy drinks containing alcohol and of alcoholic beverages using energy drinks as mixers.

For some time, now, energy drinks and alcohol have been under the watchful eye of public health officials, while at the same time has gone generally unnoticed by the public at large. This new sign campaign should shed more light on the topic.

According to an article appearing in the October 28, 2009 issue of the Ventura County Star, the signs that will soon be appearing in local establishments will read: “Warning: Consuming energy drinks that contain or are mixed with alcohol may mask the signs of impairment and INCREASE YOUR RISKS OF INJURY.”

The danger of these drinks lies in the ability of the energy drink portion to mask the inebriated state the drinker may put him or herself into, and doesn’t allow the body’s natural defenses to function properly when too much alcohol has been consumed. The drinkers of these drinks just keep on going and going like the Energizer Bunny until, in some cases, it’s too late. Even if the worst case scenario of alcohol poisoning, or even death, doesn’t occur, the possibility of injury is great when consuming too many of these beverages.

The following is an excerpt from the City of Thousand Oaks Police Department’s memorandum on the topic. In it, the dangers of these drinks are clearly stated:

According to the Center for the Science of Public Interest, the combination of energy drinks and alcohol are often referred to as “alcospeed” for the harmful physical reactions.

  • Energy drinks’ stimulating properties can boost the heart rate and blood pressure (sometimes to the point of palpitations), dehydrate the body, and, like other stimulants, prevents sleep.
  • Since energy drinks are stimulants, and alcohol is a depressant, the combination of effects may be dangerous.
  • Dehydration can hinder the body’s ability to metabolize alcohol and can increase the toxicity which may lead to lethal alcohol poisoning.
  • The stimulant effects can mask the level of intoxication, so consumers don’t realize how much alcohol has actually been consumed, often leading to more consumption.
  • The high concentration of caffeine and/or other stimulants masks alcohol intoxication because of its energy boost, but motor skills and other functions are just as impaired by the alcohol. As a result, consumers of alcoholic energy drinks are literally “wide awake drunk.”

Access the Ventura County Star article here

Other energy drink-related articles and resources: