I stumbled across a health article posted March 30, 2006 on Newsday.com. The article was based on a study done at the Federal University of Sao Paulo, Brazil concerning the effects of drinking Red Bull mixed with alcohol.
The study and other comments in the article jibe with my years of ER experience. If you give caffeine (in the “old days”, coffee) to a drunk individual you get a drunk person who is more awake.
The study in Brazil found that while individuals drinking alcohol with the caffeine beverage felt that they were less drunk, their motor skills and coordination were still very much impaired. Imagine the danger of such an individual poses to himself and others not feeling as drunk as they really are. There are a number of people who believe that taking a stimulant (like caffeine) cancels out the effects of a depressant (like alcohol), but believing doesn’t make it so.
These combo drinkers are potentially even more dangerous drivers than those not mixing caffeine with their alcohol, not having the “drunk feeling” keeping them from behind the wheel with their false sense of sobriety. In addition, these combo drinking individuals may drink more increasing their risk of alcohol overdose.