And the news is not good: Writing in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, a University of Maryland School of Public Health researcher says their "results suggest that energy drink users might be at heightened risk for other substance use, particularly stimulants."
Specifically, they found a significant increase in drug use among 25-year-olds who regularly consumed energy drinks in the five years prior—and the links to cocaine, alcohol and prescription stimulants are especially strong.
Among their findings: Out of 1,099 participants recruited for the study while in college, more than half (51.4 percent) reported a sustained level of energy drink consumption for the years studied, reports Medical Express, and were "significantly more likely to be using stimulant drugs" at age 25. Even the 17.4 percent whose use was intermittent were more likely to use cocaine and prescription drugs than the 20.6 percent who never used energy drinks.
By controlling for things like risk-taking behaviors, caffeine consumption, prior substance use and demographics, researchers say they've singled out energy drinks as the culprit. The findings come right as Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has called on the FDA to investigate Coco Loko, a caffeinated raw cacao snuff he recently called "cocaine on training wheels," per Quartz. (Apparently the health effects of snorting chocolate have yet to be studied.)