Young people who chug down energy drinks such as Red Bull for a quick stimulating boost could be paving a path towards cocaine addiction, experts have warned.
Researchers at the University of Maryland studied young adults across a five-year period and found that regular energy drink users were more likely to use drugs – in particular, stimulants.
People who drank energy drinks regularly were more likely to use cocaine, to use prescription stimulants and to be heavy drinkers.
People who consistently drank energy drinks were most at risk, the researchers write – with 51.4% of the 1099 participants, aged 21 to 25, falling into this group.
‘The results suggest that energy drink users might be at heightened risk for other substance use, particularly stimulants,’ said Dr Amelia Arria, associate professor of behavioral and community health.
‘“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.’