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Energy Drinks – Full Of Bull?

Energy drinks are everywhere these days!

Apparently a good “Cup of Joe” doesn’t cut it like it used to. These beverages are everywhere from bodegas to barrooms!  What’s the draw?  Do we really need so much energy to get through the days (or nights) now?

Just what are in these “Energy Drinks” anyway?  For the most part, the “boost” they provide comes from sugar and caffeine with sprinkles of Ginseng, ephedrine, and other “natural” ingredients that seem harmless.  And in general these drinks are harmless.  (Personally I can’t stand the taste though.)  One or two of these “power packs” won’t cause anyone much harm.  However, a recent report from the Food and Drug Administration found that Emergency Room visits due to consumption or over-consumption of energy drinks has skyrocketed.

In 2011, 20,000 people were treated for anxiety, rapid heart-beat, seizures and heart attacks directly due to drinking these things!  Now, that may not seem like many people, but compared to 2007’s ER admissions for the same things, the number has doubled.  Additionally, the FDA is investigating 18 deaths possibly tied to energy drink abuse.

Further cause for concern.

By far these ER cases were children and teenagers “pounding” the drinks in an effort to “get higher” than they normally can by just alcohol or prescription pills alone.  The breakdown was an even-split of 50% ER admissions due to just energy drinks being consumed at high rates and 50% of energy drinks AND alcohol and/or drugs.  And…this stuff is legally sold to children, while most parents seem to “pooh-pooh” it away.

Energy drinks can be dangerous at the least, fatal at worst. What happens is, when people over-stimulate themselves, they don’t feel the effects of alcohol or some other drugs.  Therefore they don’t feel drunk or high yet they are.  This easily leads to high-risk behaviors such as drunk driving, consuming more alcohol or drugs than realized, uninhibited sexual behavior, or antisocial behaviors among who knows what else.  Not good.  Children and adolescents are very poor judges of reality as their minds aren’t fully developed yet, so this type of behavior and abuse of substances is far more than double-trouble.

Energy drink abuse is certainly not limited to children and teens though.  Many adults will “pump-up” when they get a chance, and most bars today offer energy drinks both with and without alcohol in the can.

Parents, monitor your children’s use of energy drinks immediately!  Do not allow them in the home or when possible to not be purchased by your kids!  Afterall, what in the world do kids need more energy for?  Let’s get real here!  There are measures being taken to place “warning signs” on common energy drinks, but that is not enough.  Children (and adults) will abuse substances, and energy drinks are now known to be potentially dangerous.

Safer ways to “wake-up?”  Good night’s sleep.  Eat an apple.  Exercise.  Take a walk.  Meditate.  Have a balanced regular diet.  These are proven ways to stay healthy, wealthy and wise and certainly will avoid any “crash” false energy drinks or drugs offer.

Read more posts by Leo Battenhausen, MSW, addiction counselor.  Leo is a blogger for JenningsWire.