Researchers at the University of Maryland looked at 1,099 college students, some of whom frequently consumed energy drinks and some of whom refrained, for a study on the link between the highly-caffeinated beverages and various health and risk-taking markers.
A study found 21 to 25-year-olds who drank large amounts of the sugar and caffeine-filled products were much more likely to get hooked on the drug. "This study gives evidence of a specific contribution of energy drink consumption to later substance use", said Dr. Arria in a statement.
Although it is unclear why energy drink consumption is linked to illegal drug use, the researchers argue their findings warrant further investigation. People who regularly drank energy drinks were also at a greater risk of alcohol abuse within five years. Such drinkers made up 51.4 percent of the study's participants.
Gavin Partington, director general at the British Soft Drinks Association, which Red Bull is part of, told MailOnline: 'It's important to note that a study of this sort can not prove cause and effect. That factor is what put them at increased risk for alcohol and drug use by age 25, the study claims.
According to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), Germany has overtaken the U.S. as the top energy drink innovator with the highest rates of new product development (NPD) in 2015.
These individuals were most likely to experience the aforementioned negative effects of energy drink dependence, even after controlling for other variables, including demographic factors, prior substance use, and unrelated caffeine consumption.
This is particularly due to energy drinks not being regulated by the FDA, as well as such beverages not being required to list their specific caffeine content. "We want to know whether or not adolescents are similarly at risk for future substance use".
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has issued several scientific opinions related to ingredients contained in energy drinks.