Desire to Drink Alcohol is Enhanced with High Caffeine Energy Drink Mixers

Cecile A. Marczinski, Mark T. Fillmore, Amy L. Stamates, Sarah F. Maloney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Consumption of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) has been associated with a variety of risks beyond that observed with alcohol alone. Consumers of AmED beverages are more likely to engage in heavy episodic (binge) drinking. This study was to investigate whether the consumption of high caffeine energy drink mixers with alcohol would increase the desire to drink alcohol compared to the same amount of alcohol alone using a double-blind, within-subjects, placebo-controlled study design. Methods: Participants (n = 26) of equal gender who were social drinkers attended 6 double-blind dose administration sessions that involved consumption of alcohol and energy drinks, alone and in combination. On each test day, participants received 1 of 6 possible doses: (i) 1.21 ml/kg vodka + 3.63 ml/kg decaffeinated soft drink, (ii) 1.21 ml/kg vodka + 3.63 ml/kg energy drink, (iii) 1.21 ml/kg vodka + 6.05 ml/kg energy drink, (iv) 3.63 ml/kg decaffeinated soft drink, (v) 3.63 ml/kg energy drink, and (vi) 6.05 ml/kg energy drink. Following dose administration, participants repeatedly completed self-reported ratings on the Desire-for-Drug questionnaire and provided breath alcohol readings. Results: Alcohol alone increased the subjective ratings of “desire for more alcohol” compared to placebo doses. Energy drink mixers with the alcohol increased desire for more alcohol ratings beyond that observed with alcohol alone. Conclusions: This study provides laboratory evidence that AmED beverages lead to greater desire to drink alcohol versus the same amount of alcohol consumed alone. The findings are consistent with results from animal studies indicating that caffeine increases the rewarding and reinforcing properties of alcohol.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1982-1990
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 by the Research Society on Alcoholism


  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Desire to Drink
  • Energy Drinks
  • Social Drinkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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