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Energy Drinks May Fuel College Kids' Alcohol Use
Date:11/17/2010

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Nov. 16 (HealthDay News) -- College students who routinely consume highly caffeinated energy drinks are at significantly higher risk for becoming alcohol-dependent, new research suggests.

"What we found is that weekly drinkers of energy drinks are more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence," said study author Amelia M. Arria, director of the Center on Young Adult Health and Development in the department of family science at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

That means energy-drink aficionados are more likely to suffer from "an inability to stop drinking alcohol, even though they continuously experience a cluster of negative consequences as a result of drinking too much of it," she explained.

Some students down the unregulated energy drinks so they can stay up and study. Others mix them with alcohol, which can cause an impaired state described as being "wide-awake drunk."

For the study, published online before print in the February issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, Arria and her colleagues looked at data collected from a survey of nearly 1,100 seniors enrolled at a large public U.S. university.

The researchers did not focus on the alcohol-containing caffeinated drinks like Four Loko that some U.S. states have banned because of a rash of hospitalizations related to alcohol-poisoning.

Rather, they examined the potential relationship between routine drinking of nonalcoholic energy beverages that contain high amounts of caffeine (50 milligrams to 500 milligrams per can) and consumption patterns of alcoholic drinks.

The authors asked the participants about their drinking habits over the 12 previous months, and found that about 10 percent had chugged back energy drinks, such as Red Bull, on more than 52 days. These students were deemed "high-frequency" drinkers.

These high-frequency
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