By Mikaila Kukurudza

“I’m drinking rum and Red Bull, Hennessy let me get hard full,” sings Jamaican reggae artist, Beenie Man. Whether in lyrics, on TV shows, or as the drink of choice while hanging out with friends, energy drinks are cool – especially amongst teens.

But while the energy-boosting bevvies give homework-strapped teens and young adults the power to push through assignments, a recent study conducted by the University of Waterloo and Dalhousie University suggests that abuse of energy drinks amongst teens leads to poorer mental health and higher behavioural issues. The study also found that 62 per cent of survey respondents had consumed an energy drink in the past year, and that 20 per cent reported drinking more than one per month.

Another finding:  Teens who consume energy drinks often have a higher tendency to develop depression and be more prone to sensation-seeking drug use than non-users. What’s more, it’s also been reported that combining energy drinks with alcohol can become a deadly concoction.

Why? Energy drinks contain caffeine (Red Bull contains an outstanding 80 mg per can) and are stimulants, whereas alcohol is a depressant that slows the function of the central nervous system. Consuming both drinks simultaneously sends mixed signals to the nervous system, which can cause heart malfunctions as caffeine raises heart rates and alcohol slows it. While fatigue normally sets in when a person has consumed too much alcohol, energy drinks offset that feeling, causing a person to often not realize how intoxicated they actually are.

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