Our health is one of the most important aspects of life that we work hard to protect, as our condition of health will determine our quality of life. Our health is extremely important. In good health, we can live quiet, happy, comfortable lives. In bad health, It is likely that we will be quite miserable. Our health also determines our lifespan and general attitude towards life. Currently, one of the greatest risks we have against our health is thanks to our country’s rapidly expanding addiction problem. Coincidentally, recent information suggests that an unhealthy diet predisposes one to substance abuse, hence creating a dual health problem.
There is a link between bad eating habits and substance abuse. More specifically, there is a strong link between consuming energy drinks, excessive sugars, and junk food and how that incentivizes people to abuse substances. Especially with young adults, energy drinks, in particular, seem to act as a gateway drug to later substance abuse.
The University of Maryland School of Public Health did a study on this. They used 1,099 young adults between the ages of 21 and 25 years of age. The study was done over the course of five years. Indeed, there was a link found when the case studies were extrapolated over several years of time. Specifically, those who drank highly caffeinated and heavily sugared energy drinks (more than fifty-one percent of the young adults involved in the study) had a much higher likelihood of using cocaine, stimulant pill drugs, and alcohol. What the study found was that, at the end of the five years, the young adults who had gone off to abuse drugs and dabble in alcohol abuse had more often than not been the ones who had been partaking in energy drink consumption prior.
The study done by the University of Maryland School of Public Health is certainly a controversial one. According to Amelia Arria, associate professor of behavioral and community health and first study author on the project, the longitudinal design of the study and the survey questions used created a compilation of highly useful information. Furthermore, the study was designed in such a way to take other factors that might create risk for substance abuse into account. According to Arria, there is no question that energy drink consumption provides a significant contribution to subsequent substance abuse.
Arria also admits that more studies need to be done to understand the key mechanisms that underly the connection between energy drink consumption and substance abuse. However, there is no denying that the study was able to control various factors over those five years and prove indisputably that energy drink consumption acted as a gateway drug for many.
The Food and Drug Administration regulates soft drinks and has for years. However, the FDA does not regulate energy drinks. This means that energy drinks do not need to meet any kind of requirements or restrictions for caffeine content or other ingredients. This is why people often have a bad experience from consuming multiple energy drinks in one day. It is simply more caffeine and sugar than the human body should be imbibing at any given moment.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse reviewed the study results from the University of Maryland. In fact, it was the National Institute on Drug Abuse that helped fund the project. NIDA monitored the project and watched the proceedings carefully, ultimately approving of its accuracy.
The University of Maryland is not the only group that has been able to prove this. The American Society of Addiction Medicine also performed a study and found a similar link between energy drink consumption and subsequent substance abuse. This study was done on teens in grades eight through twelve. In that study, thirty percent of teens said they consumed energy drinks. Of those thirty percent, forty percent of them consumed them daily. Recent drug use was far more prevalent in teens who consumed energy drinks than those who did not.
It’s time for some form of regulation on energy drinks. We cannot convince people to stop drinking them, but the Food and Drug Administration needs to impose some regulations and restrictions on what manufacturers are putting in these beverages. There is a link between the drinks and substance abuse. It’s time to take a health stance on energy drinks and to regulate their ingredients.