Powerhouse or Problem? The Misunderstood Mixture of Alcohol and Caffeine

alcohol and caffeineThat first cup of coffee in the morning can be heavenly, changing a sluggish mind into an alert powerhouse ready to take on the day. After “powerhousing” the day away at work or home, a similar craving for alcohol may occur, as the need to unwind becomes just as strong as the need to wake up.  Busy lifestyles can be the main culprit for these chemical cravings, as our bodies look for outside interventions to keep up with the demands of our daily lives.  But, whether you’re a coffee lover or a fan of “happy hour” after work, be aware that mixing alcohol and caffeine can cause serious problems.

Alcohol is a depressant, which is why we feel more relaxed after drinking. Although drinking isn’t a great way to get a good night’s sleep, it does make us feel sleepy. That feeling usually triggers us to stop drinking… until we add coffee back into the mix.

Caffeine is a stimulant. So, when we drink coffee, we feel more awake and alert. Caffeine wakes up our brain, but, does little to our muscles. Our coordination isn’t really changed with a cup of coffee: it just “defogs” our mind and gives us the feeling of being alert. The same happens when we mix alcohol and caffeine. We feel more aware than we really are. It’s like jumping into a car within minutes of waking and drinking a cup of coffee, only, we have the effects of poor coordination, muscle control, and the decreased reaction time that alcohol causes.

Plus, caffeine makes us think we can drink even more alcohol than normal, and for longer periods of time.  No matter how alert our minds are, our blood alcohol concentration (BAC) isn’t going to be any different with caffeine, and after mixing the two, we run the risk of a drunk driving conviction, ignition interlock requirement, or worse.

Drinking any sort of chemicals can have a wide range of effects on our minds and bodies and combining alcohol and caffeine may be more dangerous than we expect. Driving any vehicle requires a responsive, alert mind, and by maintaining a healthy relationship with whatever we drink, we can be sure to arrive home safely, without the unfortunate “powerhouse” of a drunk driving conviction.

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