University of Tasmania
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The effects of alcohol mixed with energy drinks on risk-taking behaviour

posted on 2023-05-27, 10:06 authored by Bromfield, HR
The 'wide-awake drunkenness' hypothesis proposes that consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) masks the sedative effects of alcohol, causing consumers to misperceive their level of intoxication and consequently engage in more risky behaviours (Peacock & Bruno, 2015). Experimental data suggests a trend towards increased risk-taking following AmED consumption driven predominantly by the ED, with small magnitude effects (Lubman, 2013; Peacock, Bruno, Martin, & Carr, 2013). This study examined AmED effects on risk-taking administering standardised ED and alcohol doses, using a naturalistic multi-dose design to mimic how AmEDs are consumed in the 'real-world'. In a placebo-controlled, within-subjects, double-blind study, participants (N=27) consumed alcohol with ED (AmED condition) and soda water (Alcohol-only condition). The Automatic Balloon Analogue Risk Task (A-BART) measured risk-taking propensity, while the Determination Task (DT) was administered to measure frustration tolerance. AmED administration did not significantly increase risk-taking propensity as measured by the A-BART, however Reaction Time (RT) on the DT was improved following AmED ingestion, indicating improved cognitive function relative to alcohol-only, whilst accuracy was not significantly affected. Improved cognitive performance may predict underestimation of intoxication as drinkers gauge their level of impairment based on cognitive cues (Celio et al., 2014). Future research should aim to measure risk-taking behaviour in social drinking environments to further improve ecological validity.


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Copyright 2016 the author

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