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Energy Drinks: a Gateway Drug?

Energy drinks are everywhere. What once was a market that was owned by the infamous bull who’s commercials promised to give its customers “wings,” is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Kids have gotten their hands on the cans, teenagers love them, and adults are using them to power through their days. It’s almost as though people have this perception that they can’t get by without a jolt of caffeine in a can—which sounds a lot like psychological dependence.

In a recent study published in the June 2017 Journal of Addiction Medicine, researchers at the University of Maryland found that young adults who drank energy drinks on a regular basis, were significantly more likely to use certain drugs, and were also at an increased risk of developing alcoholism. The study followed over 1,000 students for a five-year period, and found that those who drank energy drinks consistently or drank an increased amount, had higher rates of cocaine use, prescription stimulant abuse, and alcoholism. This suggests that energy drinks are a gateway drug.

These findings are serious, especially considering the popularity of these drinks. The increased risk of drug abuse, particularly stimulants, doesn’t stop there. In the addiction treatment industry, some believe that energy drinks also threaten recovery by providing a substitute high which can lead to relapse. The high levels of caffeine in these drinks targets and triggers the area in the brain that produces cravings. Once it is triggered, it wants more of the substance, and signals the individual to seek the next high. Though caffeine is generally a safer drug than other stimulants, this study suggests that it is a gateway to more serious and deadly substances.

Further research is needed to expand our knowledge on the connection between caffeine, methamphetamine, cocaine, and alcohol. Until then, prevention efforts to warn youth about the dangers of regularly consuming energy drinks is imperative. Whether it’s requiring warning labels on cans, or including caffeine abuse into drug education, the more information we can provide to young adults, the better.

 

 

 

 

If you are struggling with addiction, call the Serenity Recovery Center. You do not have to do this alone. Our state-of-the-art detox center is designed to keep you safe, while keeping you as comfortable as possible throughout the detox process. Give us a call, we are available 24/7, toll-free at (844-339-6964). Recovery is possible, and you are worthy of a sober life. Call now.