A recent Australian study found that when people drink alcohol with energy drinks they have a stronger desire to keep drinking compared to people who just drank a vodka soda.
The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, assigned 75 participants between the ages 18 and 30 to either just drink alcohol, or drink an alcohol and energy drink combination. The people in the energy drink group received a 60 ml of vodka and a Red Bull energy drink. The other group drank a vodka soda. All the drinks had some fruity beverage added to them so they didn't taste terrible. The participants then filled out questionnaires about their drinking experience before and after.
The alcohol-energy drink imbibers had a stronger desire to continue drinking compared to the group just drinking alcohol. The researchers note that although the participants in the study drank the same amount, there are some pretty significant implications if there happens to be something about drinking alcohol with energy drinks that makes people want to keep boozing. As people get more tipsy, it can become harder to cut themselves off.
The study is small and preliminary, but there's a growing interest in how energy drinks and alcohol interact in the body. The energy drink industry is continuing to grow, starting as a $3.8 billion business globally in 1999 to $27.5 billion in 2013, according to market research firm Euromonitor. Knowing the spectrum of their effects is important for safe socializing.