Forget fancy artisanal cocktails – some of the hottest drinks around are pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks sold in cans. Between 2005 and 2010, sales jumped nearly 300 per cent, according to a new report from addiction experts at the University of Victoria.
The report reminds the public that mixing alcohol and energy drinks can lead to “longer and more active drinking sessions.” This can then lead to a higher risk of an elevated heart rate, injury, driving drunk and/or sexual assault.
Still, the report authors suggest banning the sale of pre-mixed drinks may not be the answer. It turns out “hand-mixed” energy cocktails – say, vodka and Red Bull – can be more dangerous, with up to 200 mg of caffeine per can as opposed to the maximum allowable 30 mg in a pre-mixed serving as regulated by Health Canada.
Removing these relatively safer products with regulated low caffeine levels from the market could lead to consumers shifting to more potent hand-mixed concoctions, the authors say.
It’s a trend mostly affecting young adults, who consume these beverages at four times the average rate. In a 2010 online survey of 465 university students included in the report, 23 per cent reported consuming a caffeinated alcoholic beverage in the past 30 days and on average, consuming two drinks in one sitting. About a fifth of students reported that the drinks helped them stay awake while drinking and “party longer” according to Canada.com.
While the authors urge caution around banning the pre-mixed drinks, they suggest prominent warning labels and regulations that discourage or prohibit sales of regular energy drinks and pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks in “high-risk environments,” like bars and clubs.
Should we be more concerned about caffeinated alcoholic drinks?