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Study: Energy Drinks Gateway to Cocaine Addiction

Photo by EARL S.CRYER/AFP/Getty Images

Young adults who suck down ridiculous amounts of popular energy drinks, like Monster and Red Bull, are at an increased risk for becoming zombie-eyed speed fiends later in life, claims a new study published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Public Health say they have discovered that people are more likely to have their back hairs ripped out by the teeth of the vicious Columbian coca-monkey if they abused energy drinks in their early 20’s.

The study, which consisted of more than 1,000 recruits brought in at the age of 18, determined that people who lean on energy drinks as part of their daily ritual are more likely to end up with a cocaine addiction than those who get by without caffeinated wings.

Lead researcher Amelia Arria, who oversees the school’s Center on Young Adults Health and Development, told USA Today that the same teeth-grinding lust that leads people to rely on high doses of caffeine in order to function in the world are the same as those driving them into the arms of harder stimulants, like cocaine and methamphetamine.

“Energy drinks are not as regulated as some other beverages. One policy implication is to consider options for regulating the maximum amount of caffeine that can be put in an energy drink,” Arria said. “Parents need to be aware of those risks when their child or adolescent or young adult wants to make a decision about what sort of beverage to consume. They need to be aware of the potential risk.”

This is not the first time the $11 billion energy drink market has been labeled dangerous.

There have been numerous reports throughout the past several years of people suffering serious health issues, including cardiac arrest, after consuming what is sometimes referred to as “crack in a can.”

Not surprisingly, however, the alcohol industry is taking steps to capitalize on the great American desire to be wired for sound. In fact, Anheuser-Busch, which is headquartered in Belgium, just announced that it would soon release an energy drink called “Hiball.”

The company has been working for the past two year to join the ranks of non-intoxicating beverages, Anheuser-Busch president and CEO João Castro Neves said back in July.

Although marijuana remains illegal under federal law, even the cannabis industry is working to tear off a piece of the energy drink market. A beverage called “Cannabis Energy Drink” is one of the most controversial breeds of caffeine mixed with an admiration of the cannabis culture.

Similar to Anheuser-Busch’s latest endeavor, Cannabis Energy Drink, which features a pot leaf on its packaging, does not contain any intoxicating components.

Advocates for the energy drink industry say the latest research from the University of Maryland is no cause for concern, especially since most of these beverages contain half the caffeine as coffee.

“Mainstream energy drinks have been extensively studied and confirmed safe for consumption by government safety authorities worldwide, including a recent review by the European Food Safety Authority.” said William Dermody, vice president of policy for the American Beverage Association. “Nothing in this study counters this well-established fact.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, around 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is safe for most healthy adults. This means four cups of coffee, 10 cans of soda or two energy drinks.

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