As such, investigators believe parents of young caffeine consumers should take heed: That high-calorie energy drink or soda might present more than just obesity risk.
According to a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, an individual’s subjective response to caffeine may predict how he or she will respond to other stimulant drugs — possibly reflecting differences in risk for abuse for more serious drugs of abuse, such as amphetamine and cocaine.
The new findings are reported by Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D in the November issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence .
“People differ dramatically in how they respond to drugs,” says Sigmon.
“For example, a single dose of a drug can produce completely opposite effects in two people, with one absolutely loving and the other hating the drug’s effects. It is important to improve our understanding of these differences, as they may reflect key individual differences in vulnerability or resilience for drug abuse,” adds Sigmon.
In the study, Sigmon and coauthor Roland Griffiths, Ph.D examined how individual differences in response to caffeine might predict a person’s subsequent response to d-amphetamine, a stimulant with similar effects to other commonly abused stimulants such as cocaine.
According to Sigmon and Griffiths, the study is the first to demonstrate that caffeine reinforcement prospectively predicts the positive subjective effects of another drug.
“While these data do not mean that every coffee lover is at risk for proceeding to cocaine abuse,” says Sigmon, “this study does show that individuals vary markedly in their subjective and behavioral response to psychomotor stimulants, and those for whom a modest caffeine dose serves as a reinforcer are the same folks who subsequently report more positive subjective effects of d-amphetamine.
“Future research will be important to examine whether caffeine reinforcement predicts vulnerability to reinforcement and abuse of classic psychomotor stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine.”
A total of 22 participants completed the study, which took place over a 10- to 14-week time frame and was supported by funding from the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Source: The University of Vermont