Study Probes Energy Drinks, Drunk Driving Associations among Young Adults

Energy Drinks

A study that probed possible associations between energy drinks (ED), alcohol use, and drunk driving amount young adults has been released. The findings offer some information about patterns of energy drink and alcohol mixing as well as a potential correlation between ED use and drunk driving.

In Brief: Energy Drinks and Young People

An energy drink is a high caffeine beverage that is popular among youth and young adult populations. They are sometimes mixed with alcohol in order to counteract alcohol’s sedative effects. Past studies have found correlations between ED consumption, risk-taking behavior, and alcohol-related problems. This study specifically looked for potential relationships between ED consumption, alcohol-mixed energy drinks (AmED) and drunk driving.

The Study

The study questioned 1,000 college students about frequencies of drunk driving, ED consumption patterns, AmED consumption, alcohol use, and other caffeine consumptions within the prior year. Other risk factors for drunk driving were previously established and controlled for in the analysis. The findings are as follows:

  • Of the 1,000 students, 570 (57%) consumed energy drinks at least once in the past year
  • Of the 570 who consumed energy drinks, 165 (29%) drank ED exclusively while 85 (15%) drank AmED exclusively. The remaining 319 (56%) drank both
  • A “direct path” was found to exist from ED frequency (without alcohol) to drunk driving frequency
  • An “indirect path” was found to exist from AmED frequency (via alcohol quantity) to drunk driving frequency

You have likely noticed that no hard numbers or percentages are given about how many drunk driving incidents were reported or how many ED or AmED consumers had driven drunk. This is because that information was not provided by the study’s summary and the full data is behind a paywall. However, the fact that the stats for the other measurements were readily reported suggests that these figures might not be as strong as the authors would have preferred.

The authors suggest that the findings indicate a young adult’s energy drink consumption should be regarded as a warning sign for potential alcohol-related consequences like drunk driving. Unfortunately, by not disclosing their actual drunk driving findings, this statement doesn’t have meaningful weight behind it.


Sources:
Arria, A., “Energy Drunk Use Patterns Among Young Adults: Associations with Drunk Driving,” Alcoholism Clinical & Experimental Research, 2016; 10.1111/acer.13229.


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