One of the many dangerous new trends involving substance abuse among adolescents and young adults includes mixing alcohol and energy drinks that contain caffeine. This may not seem like that big of a deal at first, but new information reveals the effects are more severe than some might think. Researchers at Purdue University conducted a study that showed mixing alcohol and caffeinated beverages can alter the makeup of the developing brain.
Causing damage to a growing neural center has long lasting effects, the researchers also concluded that these adolescents and teenagers are more likely to develop problems with how they deal with rewarding substances as adults. This means that drug use or alcohol use may be a bit more difficult for them to stop or abstain from because their brains have been altered to demand more.
The latest study looked at the effects of drinks on adolescent mice. When the mice were given caffeine and alcohol combinations, researchers were able to observe that the brains of the mice reacted in the same way as when they were given cocaine. This link provided more insight into the dangers of these drink combinations. As the trials went on, the researchers were able to see an increase in certain brain proteins that indicate long-term changes to the neurochemistry of the brain.
“It seems like two substances together push them over a limit that causes changes in their behavior and changes the neurochemistry in their brains. We’re clearly seeing effects of the combined drinks that we would not see if drinking one or the other,” explained Richard van Rijn, an assistant professor at Purdue University.
Alcohol and caffeine combinations are a trend that have observable physical complications. And teenagers are prone to following trends. And while consuming these types of beverages does not ensure that addiction will take place, it is becoming more clear that consumption is likely to lead toward brain alterations that could have more severe effects down the road.