Patterns of Use and Motivations for Consuming Alcohol Mixed With Energy Drinks

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Abstract

Use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) is an increasingly prevalent trend. However, recent research has suggested that AmED use may result in increased alcohol consumption and engagement in risk behavior postingestion. Although the majority of research has been focused on AmED use outcomes, there is a current paucity of data on the patterns of AmED use and motives for consumption. Four hundred and three participants from an Australian community sample (n = 244 women) ages 18–35 who had consumed alcohol mixed simultaneously with energy drinks (ED) in the preceding 6 months completed an online survey regarding use of EDs, alcohol, and AmED. Although AmED sessions occurred relatively infrequently compared to alcohol sessions, the alcohol and ED quantity consumed in AmED sessions was significantly greater than recommended intake. Reports of AmED use context indicated that participants typically consumed AmED while engaging in heavy drinking in public venues. However, the primary motives for AmED use related to the situational context of use, functional and hedonistic outcomes, as well as the pleasurable taste; few participants reported using AmED to increase alcohol intake, to mask intoxication, to hide alcohol's flavor, or to simulate an illicit drug “high.” AmED users may be coingesting in a context and at a quantity that enhances the possibility of risky alcohol outcomes, despite predominantly consuming AmED for the taste and the functional and hedonistic outcomes. Strong endorsement of motives relating to ease of access and low cost price suggests that alcohol policy reform in relation to licensing restrictions may be necessary to minimize the risk of harm.

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