Caffeinated alcoholic beverages are the drinks, which contain both alcohol and caffeine. They also contain the ingredients of energy drinks. They can be classified into two categories:
Hand-mixed CAB: Combining alcohol in various forms with caffeine or caffeinated beverage (energy drinks).
Pre-mixed CAB: These are produced by the beverage producers.
A study done in 2011 across different countries revealed that around 23% - 25% of the study participants reported consuming any CAB in the last 30 days. These statistics are similar to the United States, where the prevalence rate is 24%.
Reasons for increased use:
They are marketed in youth friendly media.
Marketing them along with extreme sports and other risky behaviors.
Mechanism of action:
Alcohol: It is both inhibitory to the nervous system and acts as a sedative. It works by activating the inhibitory neurotransmitters or Gamma-Aminobutyric acid or ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Caffeine: It is both excitatory on the nervous system and acts as a stimulant. It acts by inhibiting the inhibitory neurotransmitters (Adenosine).
Alcohol + Caffeine: Both of them increase the dopamine levels that are associated with reward.
In 2011, the United States Food and Drug Administration said that FDA does not find support to the claim that the addition of caffeine to these alcoholic beverages is generally recognized as safe, which is the legal standard. So it instructed the manufactures of CAB to withdraw the drinks from the market.
The dietaryguidelines for Americans are also against the mixing of alcoholic beverages with caffeine.
Caffeine masks the depressant effects of alcohol.
It leads to long and more active drinking sessions.
It decreases the subjective awareness of intoxication.
Increases alcohol-attributable harm.
It doesn’t have any effect on the metabolism of alcohol, as everyone thinks. It neither reduces the breath or blood alcohol concentration nor the impairment due to alcohol consumption.
In conclusion, it is considered best to avoid caffeinated alcoholic beverages due to the ill-effects discussed above.
Franklin KM, Hauser SR, Bell RL, Engleman EA. Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages – An Emerging Trend in Alcohol Abuse. Journal of addiction research & therapy. 2013;Suppl 4:S4-012. doi:10.4172/2155-6105.S4-012.