Caffeine + alcohol = risky business

We’ve all heard of Four Lokos and ordered vodka Red Bulls and seen guidance that drinks that combine caffeine and alcohol can be dangerous, perhaps because the energy drink counteracts the sedative effects of the alcohol and makes people think they’re less intoxicated than they are.

Now, researchers have found that zebrafish who ingest both alcohol and an energy-drink-like substance called taurine were more likely to take risks than fish exposed to either alcohol or taurine on their own.

Here’s the TL;DR:

  1. The fish were more likely to swim near a fake “dangerous predator” fish under the influence of both substances than either alone.

  2. The alcohol-taurine combo also made the fish anti-social. This is a bit counter-intuitive, given the role alcohol often plays as a social lubricant. Perhaps the combination led to less fear and more anger, which aren’t particularly social emotions.

  3. This adds to past research that suggests the combination of alcohol and caffeine may lead to increased likelihood of alcohol addiction.

No drinking is always the safest level of drinking, but if you’re going to drink, just watch out for combining alcohol, caffeine, and risky situations.