New Study Suggests Energy Drink Consumption Increases Substance Abuse in Musicians

Brian M. Quigley and Kathleen E. Miller, both of University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, conducted a study that indicates musicians who consume energy drinks regularly are more likely to misuse substances such as alcohol, marijuana and prescription drugs. The researchers looked at over 200 musicians, both amateur and professional, ranging in age from late teens to middle forties. Nearly all of the participants used caffeine regularly, and over half reported that they drank energy drinks. The findings revealed that 68 percent of the participants had engaged in heavy binge drinking on more than one occasion over the past year, and that nearly three quarters of them had behaved in a regrettable way while intoxicated. Many cited having a social dysfunction as a result of their alcohol consumption, and others reported experiencing conflicts, arguments or hangovers. Additionally, almost all of the participants reported that they engaged in recreational drug use, using substances such as cocaine, marijuana, psychedelic drugs and prescription drugs.

“No question, we’ve got quite a caffeine habit,” observes Miller. “But energy drinks bring something more to the equation.” Most energy drinks are marketed to certain segments of the population, including musicians. Manufacturers use music in the names of their drinks, sponsor musicians and tours, and create logos that integrate musical themes. The researchers also note that many musicians live on a diet of caffeine due to their irregular sleep schedules. Because of their odd work schedules and lack of sleep, Miller believes that this group of consumers may provide an especially ripe market for energy drink manufacturers. Because energy drinks are not regulated by the FDA, the researchers warn that these drinks can pose a high risk of caffeine intoxication. This condition results from over-consumption of caffeine, and can cause anxiety, insomnia, cardiac issues, elevated blood pressure, seizures, and occasionally, even result in death.

© Copyright 2011 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment


    June 22nd, 2011 at 2:40 PM

    Energy drinks are overhyped, seriously. If you need some energy then follow a healthy lifestyle. And moreover there are breathing exercises which can help you in an almost immediate situation.

  • anna


    June 23rd, 2011 at 4:35 AM

    How are these things even legal, and our kids can buy them?

  • S.Edwards


    June 23rd, 2011 at 11:36 AM

    While this was unknown to me,I know a lot of other harmful effects of energy drinks. And the only reason why I think they are even on the store racks is because these products are sold by huge corporations,corporations that have enough money to buy their way through!

  • Neil Merrick

    Neil Merrick

    June 24th, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    Honestly not seeing the link between energy drink consumption and substance abuse at all. Energy drinks are just sodas spiked with more caffeine.

    I see there is no mention of tea or coffee anywhere in the article. They both have caffeine in them too.

    So what’s the link between them?

  • Hope Larson

    Hope Larson

    June 25th, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    @Neil Merrick–I don’t think there is one either. The article might as well have read “Musicians linked to substance abuse” since “almost all” of the participants said that they have taken part in recreational drug use.

    It’s true that some creatives attribute their best works to being high on one drug or another when they created them. But energy drinks being connected with that? Nah. I reckon the alleged link is purely coincidental.

  • lucas jones

    lucas jones

    June 25th, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    They needed a study for that? It’s easier to open a can of energy drink to keep you awake than it is to make a pot of coffee on a tour bus or in a van full of equipment. It’s not rocket science. What’s different is that it’s more easily available and convenient.

    I’d be more concerned about the 75% reporting regrettable actions after binge drinking – and that’s alcohol folks, not energy drinks.

  • Lila Amis

    Lila Amis

    June 25th, 2011 at 5:35 PM

    It actually takes much less caffeine than the average person thinks to cause problems. A cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine, and 700mg can cause health issues.

    Nonetheless, the more you drink, the higher a tolerance you build up. You begin needing more and more to get that caffeine buzz.

  • Holly Jacobs

    Holly Jacobs

    June 29th, 2011 at 6:18 PM

    @Lila: I very much doubt guys that binge drink and snort cocaine are losing any sleep at night worrying about their caffeine consumption LOL.

    Energy drinks are a relatively new product and if they were so dangerous, the FDA would never have allowed them to be sold in stores alongside cans of soda and tea. This is a storm in a teacup.

  • Jonathan A. Ewing

    Jonathan A. Ewing

    July 1st, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    @Holly Jacobs– You’d be surprised. I’ve seen some people turn to drugs for a pick-me-up when caffeine simply stops working for them.

    They become addicted to caffeine and drugs as well. The end result usually is them in the hospital with an inability to breathe.

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