Adults who regularly consume energy drinks could be at risk for future substance use, according to a new study byUniversity of Maryland School of Public Health researchers in the US.
In the study, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence , the authors sought to understand longitudinal consumption patterns of highly caffeinated energy drinks in relation to other substance use by annual assessment of energy drink and other substance use among a sample of almost 1,100 students.
While they noted that energy drink consumption fell for many students as they aged from 21-25, just over half the study cohort had a persistent trajectory of consumption, which was sustained over the five-year period of the study. This cohort was significantly more likely to use cocaine, nonmedically use prescription stimulants, and be at risk for alcohol use disorder at age 25. The association remained significant even when accounting for prior substance use and other risk factors.
Members of the desisting trajectory group, whose consumption declined steadily over time, and the non-use group were not at higher risk for any substance use measures that were tested.
More research is needed to understand the mechanisms underlying the connection between energy drink and substance use, concluded the authors.