Alcohol Mixed with Energy Drinks
Associations with Risky Drinking and Functioning in High School
Published in: Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 2016
Posted on RAND.org on August 22, 2016
BACKGROUND: Mixing alcohol with energy drinks is associated with heavier drinking and related problems among college students. However, little is known about how high school drinkers who mix alcohol with energy drinks (AmED) compare to those who do not (AwoED). This study compares high school AmED and AwoED users on their alcohol use during middle and high school, as well as key domains of functioning in high school. METHODS: Two surveys were conducted three years apart in adolescents initially recruited from 16 middle schools in Southern California. The analytic sample consists of 696 past month drinkers. Multivariable models compared AmED and AwoED users on alcohol use, mental health, social functioning, academic orientation, delinquency and other substance use at age 17, and on their alcohol use and related cognitions at age 14. RESULTS: AmED was reported by 13% of past month drinkers. AmED and AwoED users did not differ on alcohol use or cognitions in middle school, but AmED users drank more often, more heavily, and reported more negative consequences in high school. AmED users were also more likely to report poor grades, delinquent behavior, substance use-related unsafe driving, public intoxication, and drug use than AwoED users in high school. Group differences were not found on mental health, social functioning, or academic aspirations. CONCLUSIONS: AmED use is common among high school drinkers. The higher risk behavioral profile of these young AmED users, which includes drug use and substance use-related unsafe driving, is a significant cause for concern and warrants further attention.