“Caffeine-loaded energy drinks have now crossed the line from beverages to drugs delivered as tasty syrups” boasts the Canadian Medical Association Journal in an editorial last year.
Since 2004 Health Canada has recognized caffeinated energy drinks as natural health products for adults. One of the first to be allowed for over the counter transactions back in the late 90’s in our country was the “giver of wings” the almighty – Red Bull.
Since then, the market has exploded opening new doors for many thirst quenching Mongols to market and brand their products to both young adults and the youth of today. As time passed and worlds changed so did the energy drinks and the use and consumption of them. Today the craze is Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverages (CABs) such as handmade mixtures using Red Bull and Vodka or premixed products like Rockstar + Vodka.
A study done by the University of Victoria says that between 2005 and 2010 sales of CABs have skyrocketed by just under 300 percent.
Tasty malt beverages are anything but new to the shelves in the LCBO as they have been around since the 60’s, the difference being that the newer (CABs) also contain stimulants. These brightly coloured caffeinated tall cans contain lots of flavouring and sugars along with newer additives like guarana and ginseng.
Health Canada has regulations covering pre-mixed CABs. They can contain a maximum of 30mg of caffeine per canned mixture. However the guidelines are far less strict for the energy drinks that don’t contain alcohol – some of these products can have up to 190mg (or more) of caffeine per can (depending on their size). After seeing the rise in both supply and demand for these beverages Health Canada has once again stepped in and placed a new cap for energy drinks that will not allow any more than 180 mg of caffeine in a single serving.
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH CABs?
These drinks are sold with promises of helping to temporarily restore mental alertness or wakefulness when one is experiencing fatigue or drowsiness. What they don’t advertise are the risks associated with mixing alcohol and these energy drinks.
Studies across North America show that, when under the influence of CABs the subjects are far more prone to high risk behaviour, including excessive drinking, driving under the influence, being a passenger to someone driving under the influence, conducting a sexual attack, and being targeted for a sexual attack.
When consumed in high doses alcohol is capable of damaging nearly every system in the body, likewise when consumed in high doses caffeine is also dangerous causing serious side effects such as seizures, heart problems and changes in personal moods and behaviours.
Mix the two together and you have an entirely different “Monster” – carbonation in CABs increases alcohol absorption into the bloodstream causing elevated blood alcohol content. However this may not be apparent to the drinker because the caffeine blocks inhibitory neurotransmitters, making the subject feel less intoxicated than they really are and in many cases causing the drinker extreme restlessness and anxiousness.