Emerging evidence indicates that consumers of alcohol mixed with energy drink (AmED) self-report lower odds of risk-taking after consuming AmED versus alcohol alone. However, these studies have been criticized for failing to control for relative frequency of AmED versus alcohol-only consumption sessions. These studies also do not account for quantity of consumption and general alcohol-related risk-taking propensity. The aims of the present study were to (i) compare rates of risk-taking in AmED versus alcohol sessions among consumers with matched frequency of use and (ii) identify consumption and person characteristics associated with risk-taking behavior in AmED sessions.Methods:
Data were extracted from 2 Australian community samples and 1 New Zealand community sample of AmED consumers (n = 1,291). One-fifth (21%; n = 273) reported matched frequency of AmED and alcohol use.Results:
The majority (55%) of matched-frequency participants consumed AmED and alcohol monthly or less. The matched-frequency sample reported significantly lower odds of engaging in 18 of 25 assessed risk behaviors in AmED versus alcohol sessions. Similar rates of engagement were evident across session type for the remaining behaviors, the majority of which were low prevalence (reported by <15%). Regression modeling indicated that risk-taking in AmED sessions was primarily associated with risk-taking in alcohol sessions, with increased average energy drink (ED) intake associated with certain risk behaviors (e.g., being physically hurt, not using contraception, and driving while over the legal alcohol limit).Conclusions:
Bivariate analyses from a matched-frequency sample align with past research showing lower odds of risk-taking behavior after AmED versus alcohol consumption for the same individuals. Multivariate analyses showed that risk-taking in alcohol sessions had the strongest association with risk-taking in AmED sessions. However, hypotheses of increased risk-taking post-AmED consumption were partly supported: Greater ED intake was associated with increased likelihood of specific behaviors, including drink-driving, sexual behavior, and aggressive behaviors in the matched-frequency sample after controlling for alcohol intake and risk-taking in alcohol sessions. These findings highlight the need to consider both personal characteristics and beverage effects in harm reduction strategies for AmED consumers.