Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Alcohol, Energy Drinks and Youth: A Bad Combo

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What is it about our culture that encourages newer and riskier ways to challenge our health? Public health folks have become very concerned about the latest challenge - alcoholic energy drinks. These are prepackaged beverage with alcohol and caffeine, as well as other stimulants, that look like other energy drinks but carry a much more powerful, and dangerous, punch!

There were 500 new energy drink products introduced worldwide in 2006 with average sales topping $3.2 billion. These products are targeting youth by creating brand confusion with nonalcoholic versions; providing a cheap alternative to mixing energy drinks with alcohol; and using youth-friendly grassroots and viral marketing. The names of these products say it all - Rockstar, Sparks, and Tilt.

Although there is some debate regarding the risks and benefits of energy drinks and "moderate" caffeine intake, we know that high doses of caffeine can have serious health consequences. The combination is dangerous because the caffeine covers up the feeling of intoxication from the alcohol, leading to what some people call a "wide awake" drunk, who feels fine and is even more likely than the average drinker to feel like s/he is "fine," leading to more risk taking.

As always, talk to your kids and encourage them to avoid alcohol in any package!

Photo credit: erix!
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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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