Caffeine, Alcohol and Energy Drinks
IUPUI experts discuss the effects alcohol and caffeine have on students.
December 07, 2010 — Duration: 3:36
[S. OíConnor] Well, there are immediate effects in the course of one drinking episode, and there are very long term effects that accumulate over a long time, primarily affect on the brain. The brain is the place that logs experience in your life, and the experience of drinking is a combination of building up a sense of euphoria, having a lot of fun, feeling good about the world and after the peek, starting to feel sleepy, starting to feel sedated, starting to feel sluggish, so itís a combination of stimulant effects and sedating effects. Alcohol has a combination of those things.
[K. Yoder] As far as caffeine goes, most people are familiar with what caffeine does. Theyíll drink a cup of coffee in the morning to jump start themselves. Most people drink caffeine for a sense of alertness or awareness, so after consumption of caffeine, people tend to feel more energetic or stimulated, and that effect lasts for about an hour, an hour and a half. It also has physiological effects; caffeine, depending on the dose, may give you a slight increase in heart rate. At really, really high doses, it can affect blood pressure, but mostly, people drink it for the sense of better awareness and alertness.
[S. OíConnor] Caffeine is part of the stimulant experience. Itís not so much euphoria as just feeling alert and energetic, so together, they take you up this mountain of experience with a combination of alertness and feeling good.
Itís respiratory depression; it means your urge to breathe is really strong. If I put my finger over your nose and mouth, about thirty seconds from now, you would be clawing at me to do anything to get air. Your body really will do anything to get oxygen; it needs it all the time, but if I suppress that part of the brain function that controls that drive, where you donít think you need any air even though youíre not getting any air, you die. Itís called respiratory depression; itís how most people die of alcohol poisoning. They use the alcohol to suppress that respiratory drive.
[K. Yoder]Yeah, the energy drinks, itís not an athletic sense of energy; itís more mental energy to stay awake if you want. A lot of students will try and pull all-nighters to study for an exam the next day. Theyíll have a couple pots of coffee and you know twelve mountain dews in front of them to try and stay awake. Well, the problem with these drinks is when you got the alcohol with the caffeine that the caffeine, which they normally take for awareness and alertness is covering up the sleepy effects of alcohol. Also, I think, with these drinks, I donít know this for certain, but itís really possibly that they could be binge drinking very easily with this, binge drinking meaning taking in a lot of alcohol at a very rapid rate. If these drinks are very sweet, students arenít going to be put off by the taste of the alcohol itself, and they might be chugging these beverages pretty quickly, and thatís a lot of alcohol to take in in a very short amount of time.
[S. OíConnor] Binge drinking limits itself. People do pass out; they just canít do anymore, but if you add a lot of caffeine to that binging episode, you just get so drunk without knowing it, that youíre at risk for your life.