ED visits involving energy drinks increased tenfold over four years: report

December 7, 2011

Rockville, MD – Emergency department visits associated with non-alcohol energy drinks increased to 13,114 in 2009 from 1,128 in 2005, according to a new report (.pdf file) from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Researchers analyzed data from the agency's Drug Abuse Warning Network and found that 44 percent of ED visits due to energy drinks also involved the use of alcohol or pharmaceutical or illicit drugs.

Among other findings in the report:

  • Slightly more than half of energy drink-related ED visits among 18- to 25-year-olds involved the combination of alcohol with the energy drink.
  • Males, who accounted for 64 percent of energy drink-related ED visits, were more likely to visit an ED following consumption of an energy drink combined with alcohol or an illicit drug.
  • Two-thirds of energy drink-related ED visits were to treat “adverse reactions” such as arrhythmias, hypertension and dehydration.

Researchers recommended increasing public awareness of the adverse effects of energy drinks and using targeted education to dispel the myth that energy drinks can counteract the effects of alcohol.