Re: Energy drinks and alcohol: research supported by industry may be downplaying harms
It has long puzzled me why there is a strong demand among some populations for combinations of sedative and stimulant drugs. When researching substance use among both young offenders and adults in prison, I observed ‘The combination of excitable aggression (with cocaine) along with disinhibition and remorselessness (with alcohol) seems to cause an escalation of offending, in the context of committing antisocial acts’ (p160). The aggressive behaviour of some Australians who combine high dose alcohol with stimulant ‘energy drinks’ seems similar  (and cannot be attributed to the alcohol-specific metabolism of cocaine into cocaethylene).
In the UK the Youth Taskforce coined the term ‘the Friday/Saturday Night problem’ for the alcohol-related injuries that stream into emergency departments and police cells and turn already hectic departments into weekly horror shows. Reducing pressures on emergency services (especially clinicians on the A&E frontline) is a national priority. One of the known phenomena in addictive behaviour is that one, habitual behaviour (like binge drinking) readily entrains other behaviours (think of a casino with drinks and gambling on offer together). In the UK in 2013 we need to know whether energy drinks or similar (soi-disant) "harmless" stimulants used in combination with alcohol are escalating the pressure on A&E, for example by changing minor arguments into major incidents.
1. Caan W. Adolescent drug use and health: problems other than dependence. In: Drink, Drugs and Dependence. London: Routledge, 2002.
2. Miller P. Energy drinks and alcohol: research supported by industry may be downplaying harms. BMJ 2013;347:f5345.
Competing interests: Advisor to the All Party Parliamentary Group on alcohol misuse