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Alcohol-illusion: Alcohol and Energy Drinks Combo, Maintains Sobriety?

Being lulled into a feeling of well-being after drinking alcohol is not a sign that drinkers remain uninfluenced by it. What is perhaps, illusory, is banking on energy drinks like red bull after alcohol, to maintain sobriety. //

A new study said that young healthy men after drinking vodka mixed with red bull felt less drunk, but these impressions were way off reality. Researcher Maria Lucia Souza-Formigoni, PhD, in a news release said “The person is drunk but does not feel as drunk as he really is. People need to understand that the ‘sensation’ of well-being does not necessarily mean that they are unaffected by alcohol. Despite how good they may feel, they shouldn’t drink and drive. Never.”

According to Souza-Formigoni, in many countries like brazil, people hold on to energy drinks after alcohol, believing that it avoids the sleepiness caused by alcoholic beverages and pep them up to dance all night.

To understand better, she conducted a study, involving 26 healthy young men, about 23 years old. In a lab, the men drank Red Bull, vodka, or Red Bull mixed with vodka. Each man consumed one drink per session, and waited for a week to resume the next session. It was difficult to actually differentiate between the drinks, because all of them tasted very similar. The tests were held during mid-day at a lab, and before each session, the participants were asked to consume Big Mac, fries, and a soft drink. A little while later later they were given a fruit juice, bread, cookies, and coffee before being dropped to their homes.

Prior to the commencement of tests, breath alcohol tests were administered to prove sobriety. A battery of tests also followed, to check their co-ordination, visual reaction, self-rated drunkenness, etc.

After consuming whatever they were given, and a time frame of 10 to 20 minutes, all the tests were repeated for 2 and1/2 hrs. The idea was to ascertain how the men felt, about themselves, whethe r drunk or sober and if there was any alteration in the results after vodka and energy drink combination. The target was to determine if the men felt as drunk as they actually were, and if the results changed when vodka and Red Bull were mixed.

The study showed that though the men certainly rated themselves less drunk after drinking Red Bull and vodka compared with drinking vodka alone, they didn’t seem to fare better in the co-ordination tests, Visual reaction and Breath Alcohol tests. Researchers feel that threadbare studies are required to prove the combination conclusively- they are not convinced if the caffeine or other ingredients in energy drinks is what triggers the feeling of being less drunk, than they actually are!


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