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Energy Drink Dependency

Red Bull, the progenitor of energy drinks, was introduced in the United States in 1997, and since then, the market has exploded with hundreds of brands of energy drinks, most of which are heavily marketed toward young males. With names like AMP Energy, Full Throttle and Cocaine, it’s no surprise that these drinks may contain as much as 505 milligrams of caffeine per bottle. With the prevalence of teens drinking energy drinks, it isn’t surprising to know

Caffeine Intoxication, Overdose and Dependence

While energy drinks contain a number of ingredients that purportedly increase energy, including ginseng, taurine and guarana, these ingredients are added in small amounts that likely have little effect on energy level. It’s the caffeine in these drinks that pack the energy punch, and since the FDA doesn’t enforce caffeine limits for energy drinks like they do with soft drinks, you can’t reliably know how much caffeine your child is consuming when he cracks open a can of Monster or RockStar. Children and adolescents who aren’t regular caffeine users may be vulnerable to caffeine intoxication, overdose and dependence. Caffeine intoxication carries symptoms like nervousness, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, tremors and irregular heartbeat. In rare cases, it can cause death. While caffeine overdose is rarely fatal, it can cause unpleasant and potentially dangerous symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, tachycardia, hypertension, tremors, chest pain, headaches and heart palpitations. In some cases, the consumption of energy drinks and subsequent caffeine overdose has led to seizures, stroke and acute mania. Caffeine dependence is characterized by withdrawal symptoms that set in when caffeine is withheld from the body. The prevalence of dependence on caffeine may increase due to marketing campaigns promoting energy drink consumption among adolescents. Using the analogy of tobacco and alcohol use and dependence, it’s possible that the earlier someone begins using energy drinks, the higher the risk of dependence later on. Withdrawal symptoms associated with caffeine dependence include fatigue, drowsiness, depression, difficulty concentrating, reduced cognitive performance, irritability, muscle aches and nausea and vomiting.

Energy Drinks, Alcohol and Other Drugs

Teens who mix energy drinks with alcohol are at a higher risk of experiencing negative consequences, including being the perpetrator or victim of sexual assault, suffering an alcohol-related injury and riding in a car with someone under the influence. Additionally, a 2006 study found that energy drinks can prevent someone from feeling the full effects of alcohol, increasing the risk of alcohol poisoning. According to a study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, the consumption of energy drinks has been associated with other high-risk behaviors, including using marijuana, having unprotected sex, engaging in violent behaviors and neglecting to use a seatbelt.

Treatment Can Help

Whether your child is dependent on caffeine or addicted to the jolt produced by energy drinks, treatment through a high-quality outpatient treatment program can help break the physical dependence and curb addictive behaviors associated with energy drink use and other types of drug abuse. Through various therapies, your child can learn to replace self-destructive attitudes and behaviors with healthier ones as well as improve his self-esteem and prevent more serious drug abuse later on. To learn more about the dangers of energy drink addiction and how we can help, give us a call at 877-466-0620.