Coffee, Alcohol or Both
Drinking Coffee and Not Alcohol
Spiked coffee is not a new idea. People have been enjoying coffee on its own to benefit from the jump start in energy and helping the brain to focus, further back than anyone can really remember. Just like people have been enjoying alcohol to help them wind down at the end of a difficult day of work or to “forget” the day. Both are not new concepts. It was only a matter of time before the two were combined to create a tasty yet unhealthy combination. What happens when alcohol is added to coffee?
Caffeine vs. Alcohol
Coffee contains caffeine which is the naturally occurring stimulant that blocks adenosine receptors in the brain. What this does is it allows the brain to remain alert and keep from becoming fatigued. The adenosine receptors encourage the brain and body to become tired throughout the day. The caffeine in coffee helps to keep that at bay. Coffee also contains antioxidants that are believed to aid in enhancing thinking skills and slowing the mental decline that occurs naturally with age (medicalnewstoday.com).
Alcohol couldn’t be any more opposite of caffeine if it tried. Alcohol can shrink the frontal lobe of the brain. The frontal lobe is the largest part of the brain, making up 2/3 of the brain. It is responsible for cognitive processes such as attention, memory and language. It affects mood, personality, self-awareness and social and moral reasoning (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). Too much alcohol will essentially negate everything caffeine works hard to do.
While a typical cup of coffee will aid in alertness and increase attention, a single shot of alcohol can cause fatigue and increase the chances of anemia (healthline.com). Alongside this, drinking too much alcohol on a regular basis can cause severe damage to the liver. The liver is the organ in the body that filters out the harmful substances in the body. Whereas coffee containing the antioxidant glutathione, it aids the liver by supporting the process of detoxification.
A Dangerous Combination
Some may say that it is “okay” to add a shot of alcohol to their coffee occasionally, if they don’t create a habit of doing so. This may be true, but if alcohol is being consumed in other forms, a habit may be ultimately forming. Alcoholism is a disease that can destroy a person physically as well as emotionally and socially. The real and immediate danger is to the body, but if a person is consuming alcohol on a regular basis, they are probably also pushing their loved ones away. When they are sober, they will wonder where all their support has gone to, and naturally turn to the only thing that has always been there, alcohol.
While it may be appealing to add a splash of Irish Crème to an iced cup of coffee, or a half a shot of brandy or whiskey to some coffee to warm up on a cold winter day, it is dangerous to consume alcohol on a regular basis whether in coffee or otherwise. There are multitudes of recipes out there of coffee and alcohol mixtures. The holidays seem to bring out the most minty and cinnamon flavored types. Special occasions such as weddings or family reunions tend to bring out the stronger whiskey, bourbon or brandy drinks. While it may seem a good way to negate the effects of alcohol on the brain and body by mixing it with coffee, alcohol does overpower caffeine, though caffeine can mask alcohol tricking the brain into thinking everything is fine, resulting in more alcohol consumption (cdc.gov).
Breaking it Down
While it may seem “Okay” to combine coffee and alcohol, it is in fact a very dangerous habit to form. The occasional drink, or as it is sometimes referred to as “social drinking” may be considered less dangerous or allowable in some circles, any consumption of alcohol is dangerous. Alcohol is a highly addictive substance and should always be approached with caution. While caffeine is also considered addictive and comes with its own set of concerns, alcoholism is known to tear families apart.
Caffeine supports cognitive functions and increases alertness, while alcohol does the absolute opposite. It slows the brain down and increases fatigue. It also causes damage to liver which is responsible for essentially cleansing all the harmful substances out of the body. Caffeine contains antioxidants that aid the body in multiple ways, alcohol does not. By combining coffee and alcohol, the brain is tricked into thinking everything is okay and results in more alcohol consumption.
Coffee and alcohol [ID 146625926 © Bojan Pesic | Dreamstime.com]
Coffee glass [ID 150674541 © Chernetskaya | Dreamstime.com]