Energy drink use is associated with alcohol and substance use in eighth, tenth, and twelfth graders

Kathryn Polak, Pamela Dillon, J. Randy Koch, Willis G. Miller, Leroy Thacker, Dace Svikis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The increasing prevalence of energy drink (ED) use and its link with negative behaviors and adverse health outcomes has garnered much attention. Use of EDs combined with alcohol among college students has been of particular interest. It is unclear if these relationships develop in the context of college, or if similar associations exist in younger individuals. The present study examined associations between ED consumption patterns and other substance use in an adolescent, school-based sample. Participants were N = 3743 students attending 8th, 10th or 12th grade in a suburban central Virginia public school system who completed a prevention needs assessment survey in 2012. Chi-square analyses and logistic regressions were used to compare rates of alcohol, tobacco and other drug use across three ED use groups: moderate/heavy (12.6%), light (30.5%), and non-users (57%). Over 40% of the sample reported recent (past month) ED use, with males more likely to report moderate/heavy ED use than females (14.0% and 11.1%, respectively; p = 0.02). After adjusting for gender and grade, ED use group predicted lifetime alcohol, tobacco and other drug use (all p < 0.001). Moderate/heavy ED users were most likely and ED non-users were least likely to report using each of the 13 substances in the survey, with light ED users intermediate to the other two groups. Moderate/heavy ED users were consistently most likely to report licit and illicit substance use. Additional research is needed to better understand which adolescents are at greatest risk for adverse health behaviors associated with ED use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-384
Number of pages4
JournalPreventive Medicine Reports
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Adolescent health
  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Drugs
  • Energy drinks
  • Tobacco

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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