Energy Drinks: Giving you Wings or Drug Addiction?

Energy Drinks: Giving you Wings or Drug Addiction?

Energy drinks. Most of us have had one on occasion or know someone who has. Chances are also pretty good that you know someone who consumes them on a regular basis. A college student, busy mom, an executive pulling 60-80 hour work weeks, our military staying up for hours, even days, on end, pulling odd shifts and being ready to move out at a moment’s notice. By the end of 2017, the market for energy drinks is expected to exceed 21 billion in annual sales. Yes, billion. That number alone is staggering.

There are several studies, surveys, and reports indicating the side effects of over-consumption of energy drinks- a rise in blood pressure, heart palpitations, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and harm to cardiovascular and nervous systems, just to name a few. However, a recent study is showing a new dangerous link for energy drinks.

According to a five year study done by the University of Maryland School of Public Health, evidence was found that young adults (21-25) who regularly consume energy drinks and sustain that consumption over an extended period of time, are significantly more likely to use cocaine, non-medical prescription stimulants, and are also at a risk for alcohol use disorder.

Dr. Arria, associate professor of Behavioral and Community Health and CYAHD Director says, “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.”

The study was conducted on 1,099 participants, and more than half of them (51.4%) were on a “persistent trajectory,” meaning they sustained their consumption of energy drinks over time. Interestingly, those in the “intermediate trajectory” group (17.4%), were also at an increased risk. Those in the “non-use trajectory” who never used energy drinks made up 20.6%, and they were not at a higher risk for substance abuse. Those in the “desisting trajectory,” who decreased their consumption over time, were also not at a higher risk.

Dr. Arria has been a leader in warning of the risks and dangers that overuse of energy drinks can have on children and young adults. She and her research team hope to conduct further studies, and encourage other researchers to do the same. She goes on to suggest that, “Future studies should focus on younger people, because we know that they too are regularly consuming energy drinks. We want to know whether or not adolescents are similarly at risk for future substance use.”

Besides the fact that energy drinks are extremely unhealthy, why take the chance of a significantly increased risk of drug addiction and alcohol abuse? There’s no time like now to kick your energy drink habit, especially with the new year rolling in. Here are Ten Healthy Ways to Boost Your Energy instead!

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