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A growing evidence base demonstrates the negative health outcomes associated with the consumption of energy drinks (ED) and alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AMED), especially among young people. Work to date has focused on the physiological effects of ED and AMED use and the motivations associated with consumption, typically among college students. The present study adopted an exploratory, qualitative approach with a community sample of 18–21 year olds to identify relevant barriers, motivators, and facilitators to AMED use and to explicate the decision-making processes involved. The sensitisation method was used to collect data from a cohort of 60 young adult drinkers over a period of six months via individual interviews, focus groups, and introspections. The findings indicate that there may be a general understanding of the negative consequences of AMED use, and that these consequences can constitute barriers that serve to discourage frequent consumption among young people. This outcome suggests the potential application of positive deviance and social norms approaches in interventions designed to reduce AMED use among this population segment. The results are promising in the identification of a large number of concerns among young adults relating to AMED use. These concerns can constitute the focus of future communications with this target group. The results are likely to have relevance to other countries, such as the US and the UK, that share similar alcohol cultures and where energy drinks have achieved comparable market penetration rates.


Centre for Health and Social Research

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Journal Article

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