How safe is that drink? Lift-off drinks…and their scary side
My Fellow Inebriates,
My dad drinks rocket-fuel coffee for breakfast. I’m talking five espresso shots in a mug with honey every morning, after which he asks himself if he should switch to decaf.
I usually miss this ritual because I don’t get up until later, but last night I didn’t manage to drag myself to bed and instead passed out on the couch, which made me easy prey for the kids, who pounced on me in the morning.
Holy f&*#^*# crap, people!! What kind of voltage is my dad administering to himself? I needed a freaking defibrillator after drinking his coffee, and now I’m wondering if my dad isn’t secretly super-human.
Among all the mental fireworks, a lightbulb went off in my head—I could drink a lot more alcohol if I ingested caffeine along with it. With a caffeine boost I wouldn’t pass out so easily and I could take my alcoholism to a whole new level.
It’s not a new idea, of course. Combining uppers and downers is a way of life for many people, some of them deeply psychotic. A range of alcoholic products appeal to this niche market (as well as teenagers) by combining booze with ingredients such as caffeine, taurine, and guarana. Phusion Projects served up this magical combo for several years in its Four Loko product until it was banned in several states, prompting the company to rejig the recipe and ditch the stimulants. The FDA sent a warning letter to three other companies adding caffeine to booze, citing the beverages as a “public health concern.” Health Canada is even more emphatic about the dangers of combining alcohol and caffeine.
I feel deeply psychotic myself after sampling my dad’s coffee, and drinking alcohol strikes me as a natural curative. What’s the problem?
- According to the FDA, “caffeine can mask some of the sensory cues individuals might normally rely on to determine their level of intoxication.” Cues such as passing out.
- Teenagers comprise a huge market for energy drinks and gravitate naturally to the alcoholic variety when they’re loitering in the liquor store parking lot looking for someone to boot for them.
- Last year 16 Canadians were hospitalized due to heart palpitations, seizures, and strokes brought on by energy drinks. Of the 79 adverse reaction reports filed, half were deemed serious and four life-threatening, plus there were two deaths. Nine cases involved alcohol, but which cases and what the impact of the combination was hasn’t been reported.
- A Dalhousie University study shows that when students combine energy drinks and alcohol, they double their alcohol intake. Wow! That’s exactly the effect I was looking for when the lightbulb flashed this morning and my one or two neurons decided booze and stimulants were better than Fred and Ginger. Health Canada says no, LB, no!
It’s probably a good thing these combo drinks are off the market, because I would go ahead and drink them in massive quantities, and my little furry body would probably disintegrate.
But in the certifiable absence of common sense, what’s to prevent me from buying some Red Bull and mixing it with alcohol? “Good taste,” says my mum, whose car window was once smashed by a hooligan who pitched a Red Bull at it from a moving vehicle. Pregnant and emotional, she stood wailing on the sidewalk beside the shattered glass, vowing hatred against Red Bull simply because the perp was long gone and she had no other target for her outrage.
It depends where you live. Some states have banned drinks like the Jägerbomb (Jägermeister and Red Bull), as have some areas of Australia. Canada classifies Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar as foods and Jägermeister as alcohol, warning against the upper/downer mixture, but ultimately it’s up to the consumer—who usually turns out to be a young party animal whose cerebral cortex hasn’t developed the capacity for sober second thought. These are totally my people! But I don’t want to steer anybody toward bad choices. Personally, I don’t enjoy impulse control at all, so don’t heed my ideas. Here I defer to the government and advise picking either the energy drink or the booze.
You know which one I’ll pick.