Nearly one-third of US adolescents consume high-caffeine energy drinks or "shots," and these teens report higher rates of alcohol, cigarette, or drug use, reports a study in the January/February Journal of Addiction Medicine.
The same characteristics that attract young people to consume energy drinks-such as being "sensation-seeking or risk-oriented"-may make them more likely to use other substances as well, suggests the new research by Yvonne M. Terry-McElrath, MSA, and colleagues of the Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
The researchers analyzed nationally representative data on nearly 22,000 US secondary school students (eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders). About 30 percent of teens reported using caffeine-containing energy drinks or shots. More than 40 percent said they drank regular soft drinks every day, while 20 percent drank diet soft drinks daily.
Boys were more likely to use energy drinks than girls. Perhaps surprisingly, the youngest teens (eighth graders) were most likely to use energy drinks/shots.
Students who used energy drinks/shots were also more likely to report recent use of alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs. Across age groups and with adjustment for other factors, teens who used energy drinks/shots were two or three times more likely to report other types of substance use, compared to those who didn't use energy drinks.
Soft drink consumption was also related to substance use. However, the associations were much stronger for energy drinks/shots.