Caffeine in moderation can be a good thing, but caffeine mixed with alcohol is decidedly bad. It's been in the news a lot recently thanks to the push to ban Four Loko, a caffeine-laced alcoholic beverage that has recently landed several students in the hospital.
And, just this week a British man died of caffeine overdose when he consumed the equivalent of 70 energy drinks while also drinking alcohol.
Many people who mix caffeine with alcohol do so to stay awake longer, and, presumably, drink more alcohol. This is a potentially lethal mix since your body's natural defense after too much alcohol is to get sleepy; the caffeine effectively tricks your body into staying awake and alert, opening the door to an alcohol overdose. Or, in the case of the British man who was adding caffeine powder to his drinks, a caffeine overdose.
Find out what the FDA has to say on the matter after the break.
Nearly a year ago, the FDA warned of the dangers of mixing the two with letters to 30 different manufactures of alcoholic caffeinated beverages and a disclosure that it would be looking into the safety of those beverages. Their official position on the matter:
Irrespective of how these products are marketed, it is important to remember that these are alcoholic beverages and consumers should heed the Surgeon General's warning on these products and drink them responsibly.
So what's the difference between a Four Loko or similar caffeinated beverage and a run-of-the-mill rum and Coke? A mixed drink contains about four ounces of cola, or 1/3 of a can, equivalent to just over 11 mg of caffeine per drink. Four Loko, which is touted by its website as having as much caffeine as a tall Starbucks coffee, around 260 mg.