Energy drinks are a gateway drug to cocaine use: study

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Young adults who consume too many energy drinks are more likely to usecocaine later in life, new research shows.A study by the University of Maryland, published in the journal of Drug andAlcohol Dependence, tracked consumption of energy drinks in 1099 youngpeople aged between 21 and 25 over four years.

Young people who consistently consumed the caffeinated drinks weresignificantly more likely to abuse stimulants by the age of 25.Energy drink consumption also precipitated alcoholism, the researchersfound.

More than half (51.4 per cent) of the 1099 respondents had a highconsumption of the drinks over the four-year period.Professor Amelia Arria, the lead author of the study, said the researchshowed there was a direct link between energy drink consumption and abuseof stimulants like cocaine.

“The results suggest that energy drink users might be at heightened riskfor other substance use, particularly stimulants,” Dr. Arria said.The study did not find a correlation between energy drink consumption andmarijuana or tobacco use.

In February, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital found young people with no knownrisk of heart disease could die from cardiac arrest after one energy drink.About three per cent of the Australians drink electrolyte and energydrinks, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

Teenagers and young adultswere the biggest drinkers, with six per cent of those aged between 14 and30 consuming energy drinks.About one-quarter of the drunk people on the Australian city streets onFriday and Saturday nights have consumed more than two energy drinks, theNational Drug Law Enforcement Research Fund found in 2013.

The Research found those who consumed energy drinks recorded higher breathalcohol concentrations. They were also more likely to engage in aggressiveacts, being injured or drink driving.

In Australia, a 250mL can of energy drink contain no more than 80mg ofcaffeine, which is equivalent to a standard cup of instant coffee.Nutritional information on energy drink labels recommends a maximum energydrink intake of two 250mL or one 500mL.

The Food Standards Code advises energy drinks are not suitable forchildren, pregnant and lactating women, and those sensitive to coffee.

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