Energy Drink Abuse - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

02/21/08-Lufkin

Energy Drink Abuse

by Tashun Chism

Every generation has certain trends and fads that drive their parents absolutely crazy. But now there's a new, potentially dangerous trend that many parents don't even know about. A trend made even more dangerous since it involves a product kids can easily buy right off of store shelves.

More and more people are turning to energy drinks to help them keep up with their fast paced world. Especially college students.

"It's going close to finals week or whatnot and you're trying to stay awake, trying to cram all that stuff in. It's kind of like an extra push to keep you going and keep you driving,"

said Stephen F. Austin State University student Jason Botello, who uses energy drinks on a regular basis.

Kim Simmons of the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas said energy drinks can be far more harmful than they seem. 

"From the  energy drinks contain a high amount of sugar and there's a high amount of caffeine among many other products that are of concern. They have effects that could increase the heart rate. They are even youth who can heart palpatations because of the increase," she said.

Would you let your child drink four cups of coffee at once? experts say one energy drink contains the equivalent of that much caffeine.

"If you drink two or three of these or if you combine these with alcohol, you're sending a mixed message to your nervous system, which is 'do I go to sleep or do i wake up?' For some people, this can lead to cardiac problems," Memorial Hospital Dietitian Tim Scallon told us.

And that's one of the greatest risks. Some believe this energy drink craze is generational.

"There was the coffee drinking generation and after that prehaps there was the soft drink generation. And those were the people who didn't drink coffee but they still wanted their caffeine. Now prehaps the energy drink is the next generation," Scallon said.

Advertisers are zeroing in on that target.

"If you take a look at the advertisement that goes along with it, having a cartoon related advertisement such as 'Red Bull gives you wings,' and things that young people can identify with, it's very much marketed to a younger age group," Simmons said.

Another huge health risk is adding alcohol to your energy drink. Many young people do it all the time.

"What it does is it becomes a danger because they're unaware of how intoxicated you are. It makes you feel as though you have more control than you do but you're actually at the same level of intoxication,'' Scallon added.

The most popular energy drink and alcohol combo is Red Bull and Vodka. But, Botello tells us that's just one of many he's seen served at clubs and parties.

"Another choice is the Yagerbomb, which is Yegarmyster. It's a shot mixed with it. It tastes just like candy!" Botello told us.

Tim Scallon said, "Alcohol and caffiene both dehydrate. And of course dehydration is one of the chief causes of hangover."

Drinking an energy drink won't kill you, it's only when you abuse energy drinks or use them in unsafe combinations that you put your health and even your life at risk.

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