Why doctors are warning against anti-energy drinks


Dr. Ron Peters, an associate professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center, works with recovering addicts and is a critic of relaxation drinks. He believes they may lead some teens to try a dangerous homemade concoction called "Purple Drank" - a mixture of prescription cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine, soda and candy - to get that same high.

"This could be used actually as a gateway to drugs," said Dr. Peters.

"Drank" creator Peter Bianchi, known as the founder of the relaxation drink industry, said his beverages are absolutely marketed toward teens but stressed that his purple drinks are actually a safe alternative to drugs and alcohol.

"The product was designed to be a healthy alternative from reaching to the liquor cabinet or to your medicine to get your sleep aids or your anti-anxiety medicine," said Bianchi.

Many relaxation drinks contain stuff found at vitamin stores like valerian root, rose hips, kava, and melatonin. Yet studies are mixed about the long term use of some of these ingredients.

The FDA sent a letter to Bianchi last year, warning that melatonin is an unapproved food additive. So now "Drank" is sold as a dietary supplement rather than a beverage.

Still, there are fans, including acupuncturist Tom Ingegno who even recommends anti-energy drinks to his clients.

"It's really impressive to see something that can take the edge off, help you sleep, help you relax and still wake up the next morning and not feel groggy. It's not like taking a medication," said Ingegno.

Some of the drinks also have warnings about driving after drinking them. Experts are concerned about people drinking too many of these "downer drinks" in a short time frame, then getting behind the wheel and being impaired.

While experts race to study the effects of these new drinks they warn that anyone who uses them should take precautions.

Copyright © 2023 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.