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The Connection Between Energy Drinks and Addiction in Teens

Energy drinks are advertised to children as a means to boost energy, decrease fatigue and enhance concentration for those that consume their products. Many teens say they consume energy drinks for various reasons, including staying up late to work on a school assignment, wanting to perform better in sports, and most disturbingly, mixing with alcohol while partying.  

Energy Drinks

There has been an interest in the performance-enhancing effects of energy drinks since their introduction in the late 1980s. Popular brands contain around 80 mg of caffeine per 250 ml which places them above colas but similar to coffee. However, some minority brands can contain higher doses, as can other preparations of coffee. Other key ingredients include taurine, carbohydrates in the form of sugars and glucuronolactone (a sugar metabolite), and B complex vitamins.

Teens, Energy Drinks, and Substance Use

A new study suggests teens who drink high-caffeine energy beverages such as Red Bull or Monster may be more likely to use alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. For the study, published in the January/February issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine, the researchers analyzed data from nearly 22,000 students in grades eight, 10, and 12. The study found that about 30% said they consumed caffeine-laced energy drinks or shots, more than 40% drank regular soft drinks each day, and 20% drank diet soft drinks daily.

Boys were more likely than girls to consume energy drinks. Research has found that the use of the beverages was also higher among teens without parents at home and those whose parents had lower levels of education.

Students who consumed energy drinks were two to three times more likely to say they used alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs than those who didn’t consume energy drinks. While soft drink consumption was also linked to using these substances, the association was much stronger for energy drinks.

Mixing Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Mixing energy drinks and alcohol is widespread among young adults and teens. In 2017, 10.6% of students in grades eight, 10, and 12, and 31.8% of young adults aged 19 to 28 reported consuming alcohol mixed with energy drinks at least once in the past year.

There is the incorrect belief that energy drinks negate the effects of alcohol and other drugs, causing users to drink more alcohol to get the desired effects. Teens often think they can drink or use more and for longer periods of time if mixing with these beverages. However, there is little scientific research to support this hypothesis. 

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.

Energy Drinks and Heart Health

Much research has been done on the physical effects of energy drink abuse. Energy drink abuse among teens has been found to cause an increased risk of cardiac events, especially in those with underlying heart conditions. There were even some cases of energy drinks causing changes in heart rhythm among teens with healthy hearts. This risk increases when the child engages in sports or exercise.

Energy Drinks and Mental Health

The effects of energy drinks on mental health are also evident. There is a relationship between energy drink consumption and mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and increased feelings of stress. 

further, adolescents who consume energy drinks may frequently experience decreased alertness and depressive mood as caffeine withdrawal symptoms. This withdrawal can often cause users to seek relief in other substances, such as amphetamines. If you suspect that your teen is combing such substances, it is crucial to seek help immediately. 

Mental Health and Addiction

The initiation of substance abuse occurs between the ages of 14 and 18, often preceded by emotional problems such as depression or anxiety. Often, teens lack the emotional maturity and life skills necessary to navigate serious mood disorders. Substance abuse can become a maladaptive coping mechanism for many teens if their mental health issues go unchecked. 

Teens who use energy drinks in excess are at a greater risk of developing emotional and mental health disorders. Teens who struggle with mental health issues like anxiety, stress, and depression are at an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder. Substance use disorders lead to addiction when left untreated.

For these reasons, it is essential to monitor your teen’s use of energy drinks and watch for signs of abuse. It is crucial to know when to seek help. Recovery is possible; early intervention increases the odds of success. 

Energy drink use is rampant among teenagers. Major brands tailor their marketing to these younger audiences with promises of increased focus, energy, and performance. At Clearfork Academy, we understand that frequent use of energy drinks can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. This is because energy drinks impact mood, and can cause highs and lows that are similar to those experienced with other substances. We offer programs such as individual, group, and peer activities to allow your teen the opportunity to learn healthy ways to manage their substance use and mental health disorders. As a parent, it is vital to be aware of the potential risks associated with your teen’s energy drink use and intervene when necessary. If you are concerned about your child’s energy drink use and possible addiction, help is available. Call Clearfork Academy today at (817) 259-2597.

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