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Addict Behav. 2014 Jan;39(1):253-8. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2013.10.006. Epub 2013 Oct 8.

The use of caffeinated alcoholic beverages among underage drinkers: results of a national survey.

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Department of Community Health Sciences, Boston University School of Public Health, 801 Massachusetts Avenue, 3rd Floor, Boston, MA 02118, USA.



The mixing of alcoholic beverages with caffeine has been identified as a public health problem among college students; however, little is known about the consumption of such drinks among younger adolescents. We estimated the prevalence of caffeinated alcoholic beverage (CAB) use among a wide age range of underage drinkers, examined differences in traditional (i.e. self-mixed alcoholic beverages with soda, coffee and tea) and non-traditional CAB use (pre-mixed caffeinated alcoholic beverages or self-mixed alcoholic beverages with energy drinks or energy shots) among underage drinkers by age and other demographic characteristics, and examined differences in hazardous drinking behavior between CAB and non-CAB users.


We used an existing Internet panel maintained by Knowledge Networks, Inc. to assess the use of pre-mixed and self-mixed CABs in the past 30 days among a national sample of 1031 youth drinkers age 13-20. We conducted logistic regression analyses to estimate the relationship between traditional and non-traditional CAB use and risky drinking behavior as well as adverse outcomes of drinking, while controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, income, and general risk-taking (seat belt use).


The overall prevalence of CAB use in the sample of underage drinkers was 52.4% (95% confidence interval [CI], 47.4%-57.4%). CAB prevalence was 48.4% among 13-15 year-old drinkers, 45.3% among 16-18 year-old drinkers, and 58.4% among 19-20 year-old drinkers. After controlling for other variables, we found a continuum of risk with non-traditional CAB use most significantly associated with binge drinking (odds ratio [OR]=6.3), fighting (OR=4.4), and alcohol-related injuries (OR=5.6).


The problem of caffeinated alcoholic beverage use is not restricted to college-aged youth. The prevalence of CAB use among underage drinkers is higher than previously thought and begins in early adolescence. Adolescents who consume CABs, and particularly non-traditional CABs, are at increased risk of adverse outcomes.


Adverse outcomes; Alcohol drinking pattern; Alcohol use; CAB; Energy drink; Youth; caffeinated alcoholic beverage

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