And they were at greater risk of alcohol abuse and using amphetamines and other stimulants within five years.
Boys and girls who are fond of energy drinks with high levels of caffeine, subsequently proved to be more often seen in the use of psychoactive substances, compared to those who are indifferent to energy drinks.
Of the 1,099 participants more than half drank large amounts over a long time – and were far more likely to use drugs and abuse alcohol.
Step away from the Red Bull!
These students were surveyed at regular intervals between the ages of 21-25 in order to track changes in various health and risk-taking behaviours, including energy drink consumption and drug use.
Those in the “intermediate trajectory” group (17.4%) were also at increased risk for using cocaine and NPS relative to those in the “non-use trajectory” who never consumed energy drinks (20.6%).
These individuals were most likely to experience the aforementioned negative effects of energy drink dependence, even after controlling for other variables, including demographic factors, prior substance use, and unrelated caffeine consumption.
Although the researchers were unable to pinpoint a reason for the link between energy drink consumption and stimulant use, they have begun advocacy measures to limit the consumption rate of highly-caffeinated beverages, particularly among youth.
Oddly enough, unlike sugary beverages, energy drinks aren’t regulated by the FDA.
While Dr. Arria and her team focused on young adults, she hopes future research will look at adolescents.
‘The European Food Safety Authority’s latest opinion confirms the safety of energy drinks and their ingredients and therefore does not provide any scientific justification to treat energy drinks differently to other caffeine-based drinks such as coffee’.
“We just don’t want to give them [energy drink manufacturers] this additional thing so they can earn a lot of money on a health claim that we think is not suited for young kids“, she said in an interview with EuroparlTV.