Energy drinks are one of the fastest growing segments in the food and beverage industry, with about $20 billion in annual revenue as of 2013. But they're also one of the most controversial. These drinks contain massive amounts of caffeine, which can have adverse effects on the health of individuals who drink them, particularly teenagers. Some consumers have experienced cardiac arrest as a result of too much caffeine from these products. According to a recent study published in Preventative Medicine, they may also be contributing to higher rates of substance abuse and depression.
The research was conducted by faculty at the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University, both located in Canada. The team interviewed 8,200 high school students and found that 20 percent had consumed an energy drink at least once a month within the past year. They also found that these students tended to suffer more from depression and were at increased risk of struggling with drug abuse. Even more troubling is the fact that younger students were more likely to consume these beverages than their older peers.
As noted by EmpowHER, a health and wellness website, these drinks are typically marketed to younger audiences as having nutritional benefits, which makes it more difficult to convince young people that they may actually have adverse health effects.
"While it remains unclear why these associations exist, the trend is a concern because of the high rate of consumption among teenagers," Sunday Azagba, the lead author of the paper, told the University of Waterloo's website. "These drinks appeal to young people because of their temporary benefits like increased alertness, improved mood and enhanced mental and physical energy."
Of course, this research isn't conclusive, and there are many other factors that can cause a teenager to develop depression and substance abuse problems. The pressures of schoolwork, family life and growing up can profoundly shape an adolescent's mental health. While you should always be conscious of your teenager's lifestyle so that you can identify potential problems, if your child is dealing with a mental illness or is addicted to drugs, simply taking away their energy drinks most likely won't mitigate these issues.
Instead, it's highly advisable that you seek the help of services provided by dual diagnosis treatment centers, as the professionals in these facilities are trained to deal with both mental illnesses and their resulting harmful behaviors, such as eating disorders and substance abuse. If your child is struggling with substance abuse and you're searching for drug treatment centers that can help them overcome their illness, we highly recommend contacting Fairwinds Treatment Center today. Our programs focus on identifying the underlying causes of addiction and treating these problems in tandem with dependence. This will increase the chance of a sustained recovery.