We know caffeine can be good for us: not only is it loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, but it can also help lower the risk of several serious diseases.
But mixing it with alcohol? Yeah, not such a great idea, according to science. And although many of us have tried a vodka/champagne-Red Bull concoction, turns out, this mixture's long-term effects on the brain are similar to the changes caused by taking cocaine, according to a study published in the science journal Plos One.
Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana studied adolescent mice to observe the effects of mixing caffeine with alcohol. They found that the combination caused an increase in locomotor activity in the mice compared to when they consumed only caffeine. A similar effect could be achieved by consuming cocaine, according to the scientists involved in the study, who also learned that giving mice this potent mixture could sensitize or enhance their behavioural response to a later dose of cocaine and vice versa.
“It seems the two substances together push them over a limit that causes changes in their behaviour and changes the neurochemistry in their brains,” Richard van Rijn, the university’s assistant professor of medicinal chemistry, said. “We are clearly seeing effects of the combined drinks that we would not see if drinking one or the other.”
Van Rijn also explained why drinking an alcohol-caffeine drink is like taking cocaine:
"That’s one reason why it’s so difficult for drug users to quit because of these lasting changes in the brain," van Rijn said. "Mice that had been exposed to alcohol and caffeine were somewhat numb to the rewarding effects of cocaine as adults... They may then use more cocaine to get the same effect."
So, when you're at that Halloween party this weekend, maybe say 'no' to that vodka-Red Bull.