Energy drinks have become synonymous with young adults, carrying the same status as gluten-free foods and being offended by everything across social media.
But these energy boosters aren’t just providing avenues to finishing last minute essays, but avenues to drug use, too.
A recent University of Maryland School of Public Health study featuring 1,099 young adults (ages 21 to 25) examined over a five-year frame came to that conclusion. Specifically, young adults who consumed the highly-caffeinated energy drinks over the long-term (over 51%) had a significant higher likelihood of using cocaine, non-prescription stimulants, and were at higher risk of alcoholism, at just 25 years old.
“Because of the longitudinal design of this study, and the fact that we were able to take into account other factors that would be related to risk for substance use, this study provides evidence of a specific contribution of energy drink consumption to subsequent substance use,” first study author Amelia Arria, associate professor of Behavioral and Community Health, said in a statement.
Researchers are now intrigued by the adolescent demographic, and if they face a similar fate. Arria believes future studies should target this age group, as adolescents are becoming more and more frequent consumers of energy drinks. The study’s authors also suggest additional research is needed “to understand the mechanisms underlying the connection between [energy drink] and substance use.”
The Food and Drug Administration does regulate sodas – but has no stipulations for energy drinks, which are arguably more detrimental to a person’s health. They don’t have to meet federal labeling requirements for caffeine content, and are exempt from rules against combining certain ingredients with caffeine.
The study was published earlier this week in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.
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