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Caffeine And Alcohol

Does caffeine counteract certain ugly side effects of alcohol? Is there any reason to be wary of mixing the two substances?

Energy drinks and alcohol on ice

Photo: Jersey JJ (Flickr)

Coffee has long been used as a hangover remedy. It may surprise you to learn that coffee has slightly less caffeine than some energy drinks.

Coffee has long been a touted hangover remedy. Nowadays many bar patrons mix caffeine with alcohol, like Red Bull or other energy drinks mixed with vodka. A can of Red Bull contains slightly less caffeine than a small cup of coffee.

The Hangover

One of the ugly drawbacks to alcohol is fatigue. You may feel energetic after your first drink or two, but keep it up and eventually you’re going to feel sluggish.

The chemical reactions required of the liver in order to metabolize alcohol lessen the liver’s ability to deliver glucose to the body’s tissues, including the brain. Low glucose in the brain is the primary cause of alcohol-related fatigue, as well as decreased attention and concentration.

Stimulant To The Rescue? Think Again

Caffeine is a stimulant. It counteracts these effects, making you feel energetic and alert despite being intoxicated. Good news, right? Think again.

No matter how on top of your game it makes you feel, caffeine does not reduce your level of intoxication. Feeling sober when you’re drunk is dangerous. You may, for instance, mistakenly think that you’re in good enough shape to drive.

Your heart is another reason to think twice about mixing caffeine and alcohol. Some cardiologists caution that drinking too much of this mixture may cause the heart to race, elevate blood pressure, and possibly even lead to a heart attack.

Lastly, caffeine, like alcohol, is a diuretic, meaning it’s dehydrating. Even if caffeine temporarily takes the edge off, its dehydrating effect may eventually bring the ugly effects of alcohol back full force.

  • AlysonAmber

    You forgot to mention that energy drinks are very bad for yout health. Although they might appear to have positive effects and helping you through out the day, think again. In the long term, while drinking energy drinks, you are intoxicating your body with chemicals that could help you develop a very “beautiful” cancer. Keep that in mind:))

  • prague

    I keep reading about this online and everyone seems to miss the point (tangentially) of mixing alcohol and caffeine. You don't use the caffeine to mask being drunk. You do it to stay awake WHILE being drunk. Yes, partly to counter fatigue, but not to hide your inebriation. At the end of a long week, I don't want to fall asleep at a party, I want to be there for it and I am not kidding myself about that. I don't feel less drunk at all, just less tired. Since when do people drink to get tired, anyway? As far as drinking and driving, I am more alert to know how drunk I am so it is easier to make the right decisions. I never used my level of fatigue as a measure of how drunk I was before, why start now?

  • prague

    I keep reading about this online and everyone seems to miss the point (tangentially) of mixing alcohol and caffeine. You don't use the caffeine to mask being drunk. You do it to stay awake WHILE being drunk. Yes, partly to counter fatigue, but not to hide your inebriation. At the end of a long week, I don't want to fall asleep at a party, I want to be there for it and I am not kidding myself about that. I don't feel less drunk at all, just less tired. Since when do people drink to get tired, anyway? As far as drinking and driving, I am more alert to know how drunk I am so it is easier to make the right decisions. I never used my level of fatigue as a measure of how drunk I was before, why start now?

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  • escobarricardo

    wow

  • ales1212

    Coffeine and Alcohol are both drugs although they've been legal for a long time now and they're considered socially acceptable. Also, I think that the drug war and its prosecution is really something disproportionately affects Latinos and lower income. Let's hope that we can change this, with the help of Narconon and other rehab clinics.

  • OneChanceOneLife

    My opinion is that education in schools should focus more on trying to teach the youngsters to live a healthy life. Youngsters today just know about McDonalds, KFC, drinking coffee and energy drinks. While young, you might not feel very ill or weak, but once you reached your 30s, you might ask yourself why you feel like 60 or better:))
    ___________________________________
    Northern CA Drug Rehab

  • Diawork1

    Too much coffee or alcohol is bad for our health.

  • webmaster solutions

    Effects of Alcohol are really very harmful for a health.

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