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Why Mixing Caffeine and Alcohol is Not a Good Idea


When out drinking, you may have heard a person or two order a vodka Red Bull from the bartender. Red Bull rose to fame as a popular mixer in Europe in the 1980s and has since become a regular drink option for a variety of people. The normalization of this cocktail does not necessarily highlight the risks involved with drinking it. Although drinking, in general, heightens several risks, doing so with a caffeinated beverage makes it that much more dangerous. Banyan Treatment Center Delaware is delving into why mixing caffeine and alcohol is not the best idea. 

What Happens When You Combine Alcohol and Caffeine? 

Because caffeine is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant, the combination of the two is likely to counteract the effects of one another. A stimulant is responsible for increasing activity in the brain and making the user more alert and energized, while a depressant does the opposite by slowing those neurological functions. Therefore, people that drink often do so to relax or “take the edge off.” Mixing these two substances is referred to as “the perfect storm” by researchers because of the combination’s impact on the body and mind.  

What Are the Risks of Mixing Caffeine and Alcohol?   

There are a myriad of dangers that come with this combo, such as: 

  • You can feel less drunk than you are: This may seem like a positive, but in reality, it presents far more risk than the average person would assume. For instance, just because the caffeine is masking the typical effects of the alcohol does not mean that the alcohol is no longer present in the system. Because it becomes harder to read the signals your body is sending you, it becomes much easier to persist past a breaking point. 
  • You are at risk of abusing alcohol: Not being able to feel drunk now makes it that much more likely for a person to continue drinking past their normal limit. Just because the feelings are not as persistent does not mean the negative effects of alcohol abuse magically disappear. If anything, it makes it even riskier because you may not even realize there is a problem until it is too late. 
  • There is a heightened chance of addiction: Drinking alcohol and caffeine together heightens the likelihood of binge drinking, and when someone makes a habit of this, they are more likely to develop alcohol use disorder. This risk is even larger in people with a family history of addiction. 
  • Your performance can be affected: It is common knowledge that being under the influence can affect a person’s ability to perform. So, although caffeinated alcoholic beverages may mask that feeling of intoxication, it does not mean that your ability to manage tasks while drunk improves. If anything, it can worsen your performance.1 

If you find yourself with an alcohol use disorder, Banyan offers alcohol detox in Delaware that can assist you in navigating withdrawal symptoms under the guidance of clinically trained professionals. 

Can Alcohol and Caffeine Kill You? 

Although the combination is not necessarily a deadly one, many of the risks listed above could play a role in the level of danger that presents itself upon slamming back a few cocktails. Because a person may not realize how drunk they are, it heightens the likelihood that they will continue to drink past their bodily limit. This severely raises the risk of alcohol poisoning or overdose.  

Symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:2 

  • Vomiting 
  • Seizure 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Sweating 
  • Extremely low body temperature 
  • Struggle remaining consciousness 
  • Confusion 

Just because you do not immediately feel the effects of mixing caffeine and alcohol does not mean that damage is not still being done. This combination heightens the risk of abuse, addiction, and other substance-related consequences that can stay with a person for the rest of their life. Therefore, our Milford rehab is equipped with an excellent alcohol treatment center that can help you evaluate your current situation and make lasting changes for the better.  

To learn more about the programs offered at our Delaware rehab center, call Banyan at 888-280-4763 today. 



  1. Springer Link - Effects of caffeine on alcohol-related changes in behavioral control and perceived intoxication in light caffeine consumers 
  2. NIH - Understanding the Dangers of Alcohol Overdose 


Related Readings 

Alcohol Poisoning vs. Overdose: Are They Different? 

Are They Drunk or Overdosing on Alcohol? 

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.