PHILADELPHIAResearchers have found evidence to suggest that teenagers who consume caffeine-laden energy drinks and shots are more likely to use alcohol and drugs.
The nearly one-third of youngsters who use the caffeinated energy products report higher rates of alcohol, cigarette or drug use, according to a study published in the January/February Journal of Addiction Medicine.
The same characteristics that entice young people to drink energy products, such as being oriented to seeking a sensation or taking risks, may make them more likely to use other substances, researchers said.
Researchers analyzed nationally representative data on nearly 22,000 secondary school students in grades 8, 10 and 12 who participated in a University of Michigan study that was funded by the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
Thirty percent of teenagers reported using caffeine-laden energy drinks or shots, and use was higher for boys, teenagers without both parents at home and kids whose parents were less educated, researchers said.
The study also found eighth graders rather than their older peers were most likely to consume energy drinks and shots.
Across age groups and adjusting for other factors, teens who used energy products were two or three times more likely than their peers to report other types of substance use, researchers said.
The study did not establish that energy products lead to teens engaging in substance abuse, researchers emphasized. However, they believe the findings are relevant to adolescents as well.
"[E]ducation 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," researchers wrote, "and recognition that some groups (such as high sensationseeking youth) may be particularly likely to consume energy drinks and to be substance users."