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Are Energy Drink Drinkers at Risk?

Having seen many cases with many injuries and tragic outcomes in our office has caused me to be more apprehensive about products that simply sound more dangerous. Energy drinks are a great example.

When the drink Red Bull made its way into the United States mainstream, it received a lot of attention. It seemed that the drink was an immediate staple of bars, particularly those serving younger patrons. Without doing any scientific study at all, and merely just relying upon my experience when trying red bull in my twenties, I know that this is some powerful stuff. Most all of us have drank a cup of coffee before going out for a drink or two on those nights when you just feel a little tired but know you have to pull it together and be conversational with friends--and anyone who has done that also knows that it doesn't really work very well. You drink a cup of coffee and your sleepiness slightly goes away until you are halfway through your first drink. That's when the first yawn of the drink occurs.

I have always just figured that there is a ridiculous amount of caffeine, and other stuff, in these energy drinks, because when you mix them with alcohol, the energy drink always seems to win the stimulant-versus-depressant battle. Not only does any indication of sleepiness simply disappear, you become energized when you were not before. I could only imagine how much caffeine must be in these things for them to be that effective.

One report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a government agency, noted that 20,783 people visited emergency rooms in 2011 as a result of difficulties they experienced after drinking an energy drink. It further provided that more than 10% of people who visited the emergency room who were 12 years or older did so for problems serious enough to be hospitalized. 12% of the visitors only had energy drinks and no other alcohol or drugs.

The likelihood of severe damage from drinking only the energy drinks seems to be relatively low. However, it is troubling that the report also indicated that drinking energy drinks is a mainstay of young adults. The drinks are generally marketed to teens and those in their early twenties, a group that tends not to have developed great judgment and be more prone to this risk.

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