Parents may prefer that their teenagers reach for a can of Red Bull over a can of Bud Light, but new research shows that teens who drink energy drinks are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke and try illegal drugs.
The University of Michigan’s research team used data collected from 22,000 high school students in the U.S. that made the correlation between consumption of energy drinks and later use of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes. While the data did make a connection between the two, researchers noted that it was not a cause and effect situation. However, teens who drank energy drinks were at a higher risk for substance abuse.
The teens in the study were in 8th, 10th and 12th grades and were surveyed about different habits. The findings showed that 30 percent of the teens had used energy drinks and shots before. Of the teens, 40 percent said they drank them on a daily basis. In the last 30 days, drug use among those teenagers who had consumed energy drinks was much higher than those who had not.
If you think your teen may be headed down the path to addiction, give us a call at Legacy Freedom Treatment Center. We can help. We have personalized treatment programs that will meet the needs of your son or daughter. With outpatient programs, he or she can continue to go to school. Call us today to learn more about our drug and alcohol rehab in Raleigh NC.
Energy Drinks 101
Sales of energy drinks have steadily increased over the years, growing 60 percent from 2008 to 2012. The market is worth a reported 12.5 billion dollars with sales expected to nearly double by 2017, according to market research. Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar are three of the most popular drinks available on the market.
While most energy drinks are FDA approved they are not well-regulated. Many still do not have to disclose the amount of caffeine and other stimulants in them. The ones that market themselves as supplements rather than beverages could be seen as healthy alternatives to coffee or soda, especially by teenagers. However, most energy drinks contain as much sugar as a can of soda.
The caffeine content can range from 80 milligrams to over 350 milligrams. A healthy adult can have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day safely. That means just one energy drink could meet that amount. If other caffeinated beverages, such as coffee or tea, are consumed in a day someone could easily take in double or triple the amount of caffeine that is considered safe.
What can make energy drinks more dangerous is mixing them with alcohol. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that mixing caffeine and alcohol raises a drinker’s risk of binge drinking. It is likely that the boost of caffeine makes a person more alert and more willing to continue drinking. However, companies like Red Bull have stated that it is perfectly safe to mix their products with alcohol. If your teen has a drinking problem, call Legacy Freedom and ask about our affordable alcohol rehab in Raleigh NC.
Dangers of Energy Drinks
There have been numerous studies showing that people who drink energy drinks regularly may experience an adverse reaction. Caffeine is a stimulant that can exacerbate existing conditions, especially when it is related to the nervous system and heart.
In 2009, a college student in England drank four cans of energy drinks and a few alcoholic drinks that also contained caffeine at a nightclub. She later fell to the floor and died.
Responders initially thought her drinks had been spiked but later theorized that the caffeine intake may have triggered a rare heart condition. She had been diagnosed with epilepsy and was thought to have a disorder related to activity in the heart. She may have had cardiac arrhythmia because of the underlying heart condition. When she drank that much caffeine in a short period of time, it could have worsened the condition.
Another case of a 19 year old in England who died in his sleep could be related to energy drinks. The rugby player had just finished an intensive fitness regime because he was joining the Navy. He drank an energy drink called Animal Rage during his workouts. He died in his sleep and was later found to have an enlarged heart. While doctors could not point the finger at the energy drink, they did say it could have played a part in his death.
In addition to people with heart conditions, it is often advised that children, teens and pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid energy drinks. Athletes could also be at a higher risk if they drink them in order to enhance performance. They are also discouraged from drinking them because afterwards they can experience insomnia and too much nervous energy after competition.
Energy Drinks as a Gateway Drug
The study done by the University of Michigan showed a relationship between teens who drank energy drinks and teens who tried drugs, alcohol and smoking. Another study showed why that might be the case. Researchers from the University of Colorado found in a study they did in 2014 that teens who drink caffeine may experience changes in brain development that could increase their risk of using illegal drugs. It claimed that early caffeine use could cause the brain to later enjoy drugs such as cocaine more, which could lead to frequent use, and subsequently, addiction. If your son or daughter is already addicted to drugs or alcohol, call Legacy Freedom. You'll love our alternative programs for drug and alcohol rehab in Raleigh NC.
A report from the Journal of American College Health associated drinking energy drinks with risky behavior, calling it “toxic jock” syndrome. They reported that teens who drank high quantities of energy drinks also engaged in risky behaviors such as unprotected sex, violence and drug use. All teenagers who drink energy drinks are not destined to try drugs or drink, but parents should err on the side of caution when it comes to their kids’ intake.
Energy drinks may not necessarily be a gateway drug, but they aren’t the healthiest way to get a boost of energy.
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If you suspect that your teen is using drugs, call us today to talk to an admissions counselor about our treatment options. We are here to give you the support you need to get your child help. Our personalized treatment plans mean that we will be able to find a solution that works for your teen. Call Legacy Freedom of Raleigh today. We offer outpatient alcohol rehab in Raleigh NC to help your son or daughter with recovery from drugs or alcohol in a safe, caring environment.