Are drinks like Red Bull and other 'energy' beverages making caffeine a gateway drug? Johns Hopkins scientists who have spent decades researching the effects of caffeine say that is the case, and they report that a slew of caffeinated energy drinks now on the market should carry prominent labels that note caffeine doses and warn of potential health risks for consumers.
Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., one of the authors of an article that appears in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence
this month, says most of these drinks advertise their products as performance enhancers and stimulants – a marketing strategy that may put young people at risk for abusing even stronger stimulants such as the prescription drugs amphetamine and methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Caffeine intoxication, a recognized clinical syndrome included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases, is marked by nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, tremors, rapid heartbeats (tachycardia), psychomotor agitation (restlessness and pacing) and in rare cases, death.