Online Program

High risk drinking and driving among college students increases with combined use of alcohol and energy drinks

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 4:50 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.

Ronald Williams Jr., PhD, CHES, Department of Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
Jeff Housman, PhD, MCHES, Health and Human Performance, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX
Adam Barry, PhD, Department of Health and Kinesiology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Bert Jacobson, EdD, FACSM, Health and Human Performance, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Will Evans Jr., DC, PhD, MCHES, CWP, Academics, University of Western States, Portland, OR
Harrison T. Ndetan, MSc, DrPH, MD, PhD, Research Institute, Parker University, Dallas, TX
Introduction: The combined-use of alcohol and energy drinks can increase risky behaviors increase motivations to drink, reduce perceptions of impairment, and reduce users’ perceived levels of intoxication. This study examined differences in drinking and driving behaviors among combined-users and those who consumed alcohol-only.

 Methods: College students (n=549) from a large mid-western university completed a web-based survey assessing drinking and driving, riding with an intoxicated driver, and energy drink use behaviors. Chi-square analyses and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to examine differences between the alcohol-only (AO; n=281) and combined-use (CU; n=268) groups.

 Results: Compared to AO drinkers, in the past 30 days, combined-users were significantly more likely to drive both over the .08 blood alcohol content limit (CU 35.0% vs. AO 18.1%; p<.001) and after knowing they were too drunk to drive (CU 36.3% vs. AO 17.0%; p<.001). CU were also more likely to ride as a passenger when they knew the driver had too much alcohol to drive safely (44.1% vs. 23.6%; p<.001). Combined users also reported more indicators of high-risk alcohol use, such as larger number of drinks consumed, number of days drinking, number of days drunk, number of heavy episodic drinking episodes, greatest number of drinks on one occasion, and average hours of consumption (p<.001).

 Discussion: In addition to increased high-risk alcohol consumption, combined-users exhibit an increased likelihood to drive after drinking and drive while knowingly drunk, as well as an increased likelihood to ride in a car with a driver who had too much alcohol to drive safely. Students who combine alcohol and ED are more likely to participate in multiple high-risk behaviors including frequency of drinking and driving over the .08 legal-limit. Public health professionals should target the combined use of alcohol and energy drinks in campus-based prevention efforts.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the association between driving behaviors and the combined-use of alcohol and energy drinks. Differentiate between high-risk driving behaviors among alcohol-only users and combined users.

Keyword(s): Drug Abuse, Drug Abuse Prevention and Safety

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the primary investigator on multiple projects examining the consumption of alcohol and energy drinks among college students. My studies have been published in journals such as Substance Abuse, Substance Use and Misuse, Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, among others.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.