Undergraduate and graduate students took a web-based survey that asked questions about their pattern of energy drink and prescription stimulant use. The survey asked questions about medications prescribed to them, as well as drugs they were not prescribed.
Students who drank more energy drinks were more likely to illicitly use prescription stimulants. What’s more, the survey showed that all the students who had a valid prescription for stimulant drugs said they mixed energy drinks with their stimulants. Mixing energy drinks with drugs like Adderall and Ritalin can increase the drug's side-effects; naturally physicians discourage mixing the two.
The study “includes a needed review of the neurological effects of energy drink ingredients. It also provides practitioners with important information about the dangerous interactions that can occur when energy drinks are mixed with prescription stimulants or other pharmaceutical drugs,” lead author Dr. Conrad Woolsey said in a news release. “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.”
The findings are published in Substance Abuse.