No “Masking Effect” from Combining Caffeine or Energy Drinks with Alcohol

It has been widely asserted that caffeine or energy drinks combined with alcohol can “mask” or reduce the self-perception of intoxication. If true, this could inadvertently lead to higher levels of intoxication. This study tested the possible effects of combining either caffeine or energy drinks with alcohol consumption.

The alcohol breath concentration and the subjective perception of intoxication were analyzed using male volunteers in a randomized, double-blinded, controlled, four treatment cross-over trial after consumption of (a) placebo, (b) alcohol, (c) alcohol with caffeine, (d) alcohol with energy drink.

No effect of the addition of either caffeine or of energy drink on the subjective  sensations of alcohol intoxication were found. This within-subjects study did not confirm the existence of any “masking effect” of either caffeine or energy drink as commonly suggested.

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  • Ulbrich, A., et al. Effects of alcohol mixed with energy drink and alcohol alone on subjective intoxication. Amino Acids, 2013. ePub. DOI 10.1007/s00726-013-1603-0  PMID 24178765

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