Alcohol + energy drinks = risky sex?

There just may be a link between caffeinated energy drinks mixed with alcohol and casual sex.

 How so, you ask?

Well, researchers at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) determined that college students who consumed alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmEDs) were more likely to report having a casual partner and/or being intoxicated during their most recent sexual encounter.

According to senior research scientist Kathleen E. Miller, AmEDs are likely to play a role in the “hook-up culture” that exists on many college campuses.

“The problem is that casual or intoxicated sex can increase the risk of unwanted outcomes, like unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, sexual assault and depression,” Miller explained.

“And previous research has linked energy drink consumption with other dangerous behaviors: drunken driving, binge drinking and fighting, for example.”

As such, says Miller, mixing energy drinks with alcohol can lead to unintentional overdrinking, as the caffeine makes it harder to assess your own level of intoxication.

“AmEDs have stronger priming effects than alcohol alone… In other words, they increase the craving for another drink, so that you end up drinking more overall.”

Nevertheless, Miller was quick to emphasize that consumption of AmEDs was not a significant predictor of unprotected sex – as drinkers were no less likely than nondrinkers to have used a condom during their most recent sexual encounter.

Regardless of AmED use, participants in the study were more likely to use a condom during sex with a casual partner than during sex with a steady partner. This is probably because a steady or committed partner my be considered a less risky prospect than a casual partner whose sexual history is unknown, so using a condom may not feel as necessary.

Miller also noted that drinking Red Bull/vodkas or Jagerbombs doesn’t necessarily lead people to get drunk and become intimate with strangers – but does increase the odds of doing so.

“[Nevertheless], these drinks are becoming increasingly popular with college-age adults and should be considered a possible risk factor for potentially health-compromising sexual behaviors… The findings may provide a basis for educational campaigns or consumer safety legislation, such as warning labels that advise against mixing energy drinks with alcohol,” she added.