Teens used to guzzle energy drinks before a mid-term or party to pep up, but not anymore. These days, they’re downing anti-energy drinks to help them unwind. We’ve talked about them before. They have brand names like “Drank” and “Unwind,” and they’re sold everywhere from college campuses to convenience stores for $3 a pop. Teens love how in less than 15 minutes, they feel extremely relaxed, almost as if they’re drunk or stoned. In fact, the cans often contain labels warning users not to drive or operate machinery for several hours because they cause such extreme drowsiness.
Manufacturers say anti-energy drinks are a safe way for teens to take the edge off of stressful situations, without turning to drugs or alcohol. However, experts warn that anti-energy drinks can be just as dangerous. That’s because they’re packed with tranquilizers and sedatives that aren’t approved by the FDA – things like melatonin, valerian root and rose hips. Since they’re so new, there’s no telling how they’ll affect your brain years down the road.
One of the worst aspects of these drinks is that they’re modeled after street-drug concoctions. The street version is called “purple drank” or “sizzurp.” It’s made by mixing cough syrup, Sprite, and grape Jolly Ranchers, which turn it purple. It’s been glamorized in a lot of rap and pop songs. Most teens don’t realize that the key ingredient, cough syrup, contains powerful chemicals like codeine, which can disrupt your respiratory system and trigger cardiac arrest. In fact, a number of high profile rappers have recently died after overdosing on purple drank. Ronald Peters is a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He likens anti-energy drinks to candy cigarettes – if candy cigarettes had fake-nicotine in them. That's because these products do contain sedatives – and if kids like the canned version, what’s to stop them from trying the street narcotic version. Peters calls anti-energy drinks an “unethical product."