Most folks don’t realize how dangerous Alcoholic Energy Drinks (AEDs) are for young people and adults. When a person mixes the depressant in alcohol and the stimulant in energy drinks they get what is referred to as a “wide-awake drunk.” AEDs are a very big problem for young people. Energy drinks were once just a fad among our youth, but they have now become a staple in their lives. Energy drinks, which contain large doses of caffeine, ephedrine, guarana, taurine ginseng, and now alcohol, became a $4.8 billion industry in the United States last year. The newest trend of energy drinks has been referred to as “speedball in a can.” AEDs are prepackaged beverages that contain alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants.

You will probably be shocked to learn that teens – and even pre-teens – can legally purchase energy drinks containing alcohol. Rock Star 21 has 6% alcohol and Sparks contains 7% alcohol. There are eight products on the market that contain 200% more alcohol than that found in a typical can of beer. Currently, Alabama has no law regarding placement of alcoholic drinks in a store separate from non-alcoholic. These AEDs are often stocked with the non-alcoholic brands. Because these cans have similar graphics, consumers and even store clerks are mistaking the alcoholic brands for regular energy drinks.

It has been reported that 31% of 12-17 year olds and 34% of 18-24 year olds regularly consume energy drinks. Producers are now focusing, not on television and radio, but on sporting events, text messaging and internet forums such as Facebook and MySpace to market their products. Alcohol producers, which spend $4.5 billion marketing their products, have built on the popularity of these drinks by blurring the line between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

A web-based survey of more than 4,000 students revealed that, of the students who drank alcoholic beverages in the last 30 days, 24% mixed energy drinks with alcohol in order to “drink more and drink longer.” A separate survey showed that 54% of those drinking an energy drink do so to improve the taste of alcohol. We all know that alcohol and young people do not mix. It’s illegal for many reasons, one of them being that alcohol is the leading cause of death among youth. Also, research has shown that alcohol consumption, even in modest amounts, can result in permanent brain damage because the brain continues to develop into a person’s mid-twenties. In addition, about 70,000 teens are sexually assaulted and more than 600,000 are physically assaulted each year as a result of drinking or being with someone who is drinking.

Marin Institute performed an in-depth study on the effects of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Public Health and Safety Officials have become alarmed by their findings. Researchers found in this study that: “The subjects’ performance was significantly worse after ingesting the AED despite their perception of increased alertness and reduced intoxication.”

Alcohol and energy drinks create a dangerous mix. The caffeine, a stimulant in these drinks, disguises the intoxicating effects of alcohol. Fatigue is the body’s way of saying it’s had enough to drink. High doses of caffeine mask the body’s natural way of alerting a person to stop drinking. The alcoholic beverages industry, as a whole, refuses to alert users to the potential for misjudging one’s intoxication. Instead, the industry suggests that the beverages will enhance alertness and energy. It’s predicted that companies in this industry will gross $10 billion yearly by 2010.

Source: ParentTalk Alert

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