Study Looks at Effects of Binge Alcohol-Caffeine Drinking in Teens

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A new study attempts to understand the neurobehavioral impact of young adults who binge drink on caffeinated drinks and alcohol — particularly to explore adolescent responses compared to adults.

Binge drinking (and co-consuming) alcohol and caffeinated energy drinks is common with young adults, and previous studies have already linked it with an increased prevalence of “behaving badly”, a.k.a. hazardous behaviors.

Animal models can help us further understand the neurobehavioral impact of this type of binge co-drinking, but no work to date has explored the long-term effects of alcohol and caffeine co-drinking in adolescent animals.

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For the study, recently published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, adolescent and adult male mice were provided with limited access to the following every day for two weeks, using the animal model of binge-like ethanol drinking, called Drinking in the Dark:

  • Caffeine (0.03% w/v —percentage weight for volume—meaning 0.03% of caffeine was dissolved in a solvent and made up to a final solution volume of 100 ml. This amount is similar to what is found in common energy drinks (e.g. Red Bull)
  • Alcohol (20% v/v—percentage volume for volume—meaning a 20% v/v ethanol solution in water; 20 ml of ethanol in 100 ml of solution)
  • A combined caffeine/alcohol solution, or
  • Water

Locomotor activity (movement from one location to another) of each mouse was looked at during Drinking in the Dark. Following that, the mice rested for 18 days so that adolescent mice reached adulthood.

Researchers discovered that co-consuming alcohol and caffeine considerably increased alcohol (ethanol) intake and blood ethanol concentrations in young adult mice and adult mice. Adolescent mice displayed strong locomotor stimulant response to this method of co-drinking.

Study results suggest that co-consuming caffeine with alcohol may increase binge alcohol drinking in young adults and that adolescents may be sensitive to the intoxicating effects of caffeinated alcohol drinking. This could be linked to an increased incidence of associated negative consequences.

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Source for Today’s Article:
Fritz B.M., et al., “Concomitant Caffeine Increases Binge Consumption of Ethanol in Adolescent and Adult Mice, But Produces Additive Motor Stimulation Only in Adolescent Animals,” Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 2016 Jun;40(6):1351-60. doi: 10.1111/acer.13089. Epub 2016 May 7.