If mixing Red Bull and vodka seems like a way to imbibe while avoiding late-night drowsiness — well, it is, according to the headlines this week, but at a cost. College students who drank a cocktail of alcohol and energy drinks reported feeling twice as stimulated as those who drank alcohol alone, according to a new study from Northern Kentucky University.
The caffeine overrides the drowsiness that kicks in after drinking alcohol.
The danger here, says lead author Cecile Marczinksi, is that you don’t realize how drunk you’re getting. She tells Time Healthland:
"Stimulation may not be a good thing when you're drinking because you may drink longer, decide to stay at a party where you're drinking longer, and drink far more than you originally intended."
The conclusion may not be surprising to college students, but the danger is on the radar of the Food and Drug Administration which sent warning letters in November to four makers of drinks combining alcohol and caffeine, including the drink Four Loko. The FDA cited studies — similar to this one — which suggest that caffeine suppresses alcohol’s natural sleep-inducing effects. People get drunk and act drunk, but report not feeling drunk.