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Energy drink, a gateway drug for teens

News Agencies | Updated on: 9 August 2017, 10:17 IST

Apparently, regular energy drinks give you wings and a drug problem.

A new study by University of Maryland School of Public Health researchers suggests that there is reason for concern as young adults who regularly consume highly caffeinated energy drinks are at the risk for future substance use.

In a study of young adults across a five-year period (from ages 21-25), Dr Amelia Arria and colleagues with the Center on Young Adult Health and Development (CYAHD) found evidence that individuals who regularly consumed highly caffeinated energy drinks, and sustained that consumption over time, were significantly more likely to use cocaine, nonmedically use prescription stimulants (NPS) and be at risk for alcohol use disorder (AUD) at age 25.

Participants were recruited for the study while enrolled as college students, and were surveyed at regular intervals to track changes in various health and risk-taking behaviours, including energy drink consumption and drug use.

"The results suggest that energy drink users might be at heightened risk for other substance use, particularly stimulants," said Dr Arria. "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."

Members of this group were significantly more likely to be using stimulant drugs such as cocaine and prescription stimulants non-medically and be at risk for alcohol use disorder at age 25.

The research singles out ED consumption as the contributory factor because they controlled for the effects of demographics, sensation-seeking behaviours, other caffeine consumption, and prior substance use at age 21.

The study is published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 


First published: 9 August 2017, 10:17 IST