According Health Line, there may be a link between energy drink consumption in adolescents and drug use. Several researchers have found similar conclusions.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that students’ energy drink consumption was correlated with “drinking, smoking, and illicit drug use” in the past 30 days. A study 2020 published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health analyzed data from more than 10,000 students in grades 7-12. Researchers found that while energy drink consumption was associated with drug use such as alcohol, cannabis, opioids and tobacco, middle school students were “more at risk of using other substances than their high school counterparts.” who drank energy drinks.
However, the risk of drug use from energy drink consumption might not apply only to adolescents. A study 2016 published in the Journal of Caffeine Research found that young adults aged 18 to 28 who consumed energy drinks weekly were also more likely to have abused alcohol and drugs in the past 30 days.
Notably, these studies do not imply a causal relationship – meaning that while there is a correlation between energy drink consumption and drug use, energy drinks do not necessarily lead to drug use. But one study 2017 published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence found that young adults who continued to consume energy drinks had a higher risk of alcohol use disorder by age 25.