Photo by Roberto Machado Noa via Getty Images

Pretty much anyone who’s been to a club could’ve told you that

Tim Nelson
August 17, 2018

Do you remember vintage Four Loko? You probably do, but also probably don’t, if you catch my drift. Though the caffeine-loaded, fruit-flavored malt beverage is no more, Red Bull and vodka fits the bill among those angling for something that promises the best nights and worst behavior in equal measure. But if you’re the kind of person who enjoys an RBV or two and suddenly turns into a raging jerk, the good news is that science says it’s not entirely your fault.

A new study jointly conducted by the University of Portsmouth in England and the Federal University of Santa Maria in Brazil suggests that the fusion of energy drinks with alcohol can change our behavior for the worse. To show that, they exposed different groups of zebrafish to taurine (an acid and nervous system depressant that frequently appears in energy drinks), alcohol, and a combination of the two, observing how they got along with the other fish and their reactions to a dummy “predator” in their midst.

There was no evidence linking the taurine and alcohol zebrafish to a sudden love of bad EDM. But they did exhibit antisocial tendencies towards other members of their own species, and behaved in a comparatively risk-averse manner with regards to the supposed predator in their midst. Given that the Zebrafish was specifically selected for its relatively social nature, this registers as a big deal.

“The addition of taurine, an ingredient in many 'energy' drinks, appears to exacerbate risky choices in zebrafish, as well as reducing their social cohesion,” study co-author Dr. Matt Parker told Science Daily. “Mixing alcohol and taurine might be a factor in increasing some of the negative effects of alcohol. People should be aware that drinking energy drinks in combination with alcohol may impair their judgement, and should do so with caution."

Sounds like a lot of nerd talk to me, but the guy may have a good point. Going out and pounding RBVs seems like fun and games until it’s 3:30 in the morning and you’re hurling your slice of pizza at some stranger because he made fun of your Affliction t-shirt. So next time you feel like having more of a laid back evening, tell the squad to skip the taurine, because science is on your side.

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