Teens Who Consume Energy Drinks Are At Higher Risk Of Substance Abuse

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

Teens who constantly crack open a Red Bull or Monster energy drink could be at a higher risk of using alcohol and drugs, according to a new study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine.

The energy drink industry has grown immensely over the past decade, and studies show that nearly one-third of US adolescents consume the high-caffeinated drinks. However, the latest research says that these teens also show higher rates of alcohol, cigarette or drug use.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 22,000 US secondary students who participated in a University of Michigan study entitled “Monitoring the Future.” The team said the same characteristics that attract young people to consume energy drinks could make them more susceptible to abusing other substances as well.

Energy drinks in the study were classified as those marketed as aids to help increase energy, concentration or alertness.

The study found that 30 percent of the teens reported using energy drinks or shots, while more than 40 percent said they regularly drank soft drinks. The team discovered that boys were more likely to use energy drinks than girls, and teens without two parents at home were also more prone to drink the caffeinated beverages.

According to the study, students who used energy drinks were more likely to report recent use of alcohol, cigarettes and illicit drugs. Energy drinks were linked to certain behavior patterns in young adults as well, such as looking for a different sensation or risk. Drinking soft drinks regularly was linked to a higher use of substance abuse, but it was not as prevalent of a finding as energy drinks.

“The current study indicates that adolescent consumption of energy drinks/shots is widespread and that energy drink users also report heightened risk for substance use,” the researchers from the University of Michigan wrote in the journal.

The study is one of the first to look at the link between energy drink consumption among young adults and substance abuse. The researchers said they believe the link in young adults could be relevant for adolescents as well.

“Education for parents and prevention efforts among adolescents should include education on the masking effects of caffeine in energy drinks on alcohol- and other substance-related impairments, and recognition that some groups (such as high sensation–seeking youth) may be particularly likely to consume energy drinks and to be substance users,” the researchers wrote in the journal.

The team says that energy drinks are not a good dietary choice for teens due to their high caffeine and sugar content. They said that these beverages have “no place in the diet of children and adolescents.”