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Study Says Mixing Energy Drinks, Alcohol May Affect Young Brains Same as Cocaine

A new study has found out that mixing caffeinated energy drinks with alcoholic beverages can adversely affect the adolescent brains just like cocaine.

Conducted by the Purdue University, the research looked into the possible effects of highly caffeinated energy drinks and highly caffeinated alcohol using adolescent mice as specimen.

Richard van Rijn, an assistant professor of medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology, led the research team.

According to the study, adolescent mice which consumed high-caffeine energy drinks were not more likely than a control group to consume more alcohol as adults.

The results of the study were published in the Alcohol journal by van Rijn and graduate student Meridith Robins.

Adolescent mice which were subjected to caffeinated alcohol showed physical and neurochemical signs just like other mice which were given cocaine.

Van Rijn said: "It seems the 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."

The researchers came to a conclusion that those adolescent mice became more active like the mice that were subjected to cocaine.

Also detected in the experiments was the increased level of the protein ΔFosB, which is related to long-term changes in neurochemistry. The researchers related it to drug abuse of cocaine or morphine.

Van Rijn added: "That's one reason why it's so difficult for drug users to quit because of these lasting changes in the brain.”

The study also found out that mice which were used to caffeinated alcohol during adolescence became less sensitive to the pleasurable effects derived by the intake of cocaine. This they believe has a potential of drug and alcohol abuse.

Van Rijn’s research at the Purdue University is supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust and the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation/Foundation for Alcohol Research.

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