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Energy drinks could pose yet another problem for young adults

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It’s one thing for young people to get high on energy drinks, but when they combine them with stimulant medications, it’s a whole new ball game with potentially risky consequences. The typical ingredients in energy drinks such as caffeine, taurine, inositol, L-tyrosine, and yohimbine hydrochloride, among others, are already known to cause neurological effects similar to those found in prescription stimulants.

New research published in Substance Abuse, the official journal of the Association for Medical Education and Research in Substance Abuse (AMERSA) and compiled by a team representing six American universities found that the more often people consume energy drinks, the more likely they will also use illicit prescription medications. The study included both graduate and undergraduates at a major Midwestern university.

Since adolescents and young adults under 25 are already at greater risk for developing addictive personality traits and dependency, the combination of increased use of energy drinks and increased availability of prescription stimulants substantially increases that risk. In fact, the study found that students who already had valid prescriptions for stimulant medications reported, indeed, mixing their prescriptions with energy drinks.

“This…provides practitioners with important information about the dangerous interactions that can occur when energy drinks are mixed with prescription stimulants or other pharmaceutical drugs,” according to Dr. Conrad Woolsey, primary author of the study. “Ginseng, for example, should not be mixed with anti-depressant medications or prescription stimulants because this can cause dangerously high levels of serotonin (i.e., serotonin syndrome), which is known for causing rapid irregular heartbeats and even seizures.

For more information, readers can refer to www.tandfonline.com/WSUB.

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