People between the ages of 21 and 24 who consume energy drinks are more likely to use cocaine and abuse prescription stimulants at age 25, according to a study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
The study also found energy drink use fell between ages 21 and 25.
Energy Drink Use Linked to Stimulant Abuse
The study followed 1,099 participants beginning when they were 18-year-old college students. Researchers conducted annual assessments of participants’ use of energy drinks and other substances.
At age 21, 62.5% of participants used energy drinks, compared to 49.1% by age 25. Just 20.6% of participants never used energy drinks, but 51.4% consistently used energy drinks over a four-year period. The study dubbed this group the “persistent trajectory” group. “Desisting” users accounted for 10.6% of the group, decreasing their use over time. “Intermediate” users were 17.4% of the total, falling in between persisting and desisting users.
The study found no correlation between either marijuana or tobacco consumption and later stimulant abuse.
Do Energy Drinks Lead to Substance Abuse?
The study did not explore why or how energy drinks might predict later substance abuse. Researchers also did not uncover evidence that energy drinks cause later substance abuse. Instead, the study suggests people who consume energy drinks early in adulthood might already be at an increased risk of substance abuse. Stimulants promote feelings of energy and alertness, potentially offering users a stronger version of the sensations they experience with energy drinks.
More research is necessary to explore the link and understand other potential risk factors.
- Arria, A. M., Caldeira, K. M., Bugbee, B. A., Vincent, K. B., & O’Grady, K. E. (2017). Trajectories of energy drink consumption and subsequent drug use during young adulthood. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.06.008
- Energy drink consumption could lead to cocaine use, study says. (2017, August 15). Retrieved from http://www.torontosun.com/2017/08/14/energy-drink-consumption-could-lead-to-cocaine-use-study-says
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