Is It Dangerous to Combine Alcohol and Caffeine?

smiling young man

Despite common beliefs, alcohol and caffeine are a dangerous mix. Perhaps you drank a little bit too much and thought that drinking caffeine would help “level” you out – it can do this, but this also increases your risk of drinking too much and becoming more impaired because you may be less able to identify alcohol’s effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that caffeine does not affect alcohol’s metabolism by the liver, and therefore does not reduce breathe or blood alcohol concentration (BAC), either. By understanding the effects of combining alcohol and caffeine, you can hopefully protect yourself – and others – from potential harm.

Alcohol is a depressant, which causes more adenosine to build in your system – ultimately leading you to drowsiness, reduced balance and fine motor skills, slower reaction times, and more. Caffeine, on the other hand, is a stimulant – which works to suppress rising levels of adenosine. Caffeine’s effects can include rapid heartbeat, alertness, anxiety, shakiness, dizziness, and more. Combining them does not mean that you will become more alert while drunk, despite popular myths; in fact, consuming both of these could mean making more risky decisions because you might experience the “illusion” of being more focused than you really are.

A 2014 study titled, “Caffeinated Alcohol Use and Expectancies for Caffeine Versus Alcohol” involved the collection of data from 419 college students regarding their alcohol expectancies (I would act sociable, I would feel courageous, etc.), caffeine expectancies (I pay attention more effectively, drinking caffeine makes me anxious, etc.), alcohol and caffeine use combined, and alcohol-related problems. Results from the study showed the following:

  • Caffeine withdrawals were more likely to occur with caffeine-alcohol combinations
  • Cognitive and behavioral impairment and self-perception of alcohol expectancies were dependent on the amount of alcohol and caffeine consumed and how frequently
  • Expectations for what one could expect seemed to place most individuals at risk for caffeine and/or alcohol-related combination problems

If you’re ready to seek help for substance abuse, speak with a professional from a reputable treatment center to learn more about options to fit your needs. Recovery is possible.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, call us today at 888-743-0490 so that we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.