People aged 15-17 who have mixed alcohol with energy drinks are four times more likely to have an alcohol-related disorder than those who drank alcohol without mixing it with energy drinks, says a new study by Darmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

In a sample of 3,342 adolescents, 9.7% had drank alcohol mixed with energy drinks and were much more likely to binge drink and fit the criteria defined for alcohol use disorder. Past studies have confirmed similar results in older age brackets, but this study is focused specifically on adolescents and young adults.

"Abusive alcohol use among adolescents is a dangerous behavior that can lead to injury, chronic alcohol use and abuse, and even death," said Jennifer Emond, author of the study. "Identifying those most at risk for alcohol use is critical. Given that this is a sensitive issue, it's possible that clinicians, parents, and educators might open dialogues about alcohol use with adolescents by starting the discussion on the topic of energy drinks."

Researchers plan to analyze how the marketing of energy drinks may influence teens’ perceptions of their use.