Do Energy Drinks Lead to Alcohol Abuse?

Jim Liebelt

Most news headlines are focusing on the safety of alcoholic energy drinks like Four Loko, the maker of which announced on Tuesday, in the face of several statewide bans and the threat of a federal crackdown, that it would remove caffeine and other stimulants from its products. But it turns out, plain old booze-free energy drinks — like Red Bull and Monster — may also increase the risk of alcohol abuse among teens and college students, at least according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

For the study, researchers examined the energy drink consumption and alcohol-drinking habits of 1,097 fourth-year students at a large public university that remains unnamed in the study. The data was collected as part of a four-year longitudinal study that the school conducted via anonymous computer survey to monitor student life.

Researchers found that 10% of students reported being high-frequency energy drink consumers — downing energy drinks at least 52 days per year, and in some cases every day. About half were low-frequency drinkers, using energy drinks less than 52 days in the past year. The rest did not consume energy drinks at all.

Compared with the low-frequency group, those who consumed more energy drinks also drank alcohol more often — on 142 days versus 103 days in the past year. And when they drank, they drank more overall — 6.2 drinks a day versus 4.6 drinks.

Source: Time