Next teen drug threat — legal, caffeinated soft drinks

Today's drug of choice among teens may be caffeine, perfectly legal and packaged in an aluminum can with a catchy name like Bawls or Amp or Hype.

Ask a group of high school students what they're drinking and they'll shout out their favorite energy drinks: "Monster!" "Rockstar!" "Boo Koo!" "Go Girl!"

In the past 12 months, the California Poison Control System has handled 26 calls about dangerous reactions to energy drinks in kids, most of them ages 14 and 15. In all, 15 young people landed in emergency rooms with "shakiness, tremors, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, agitation, increased heart rate or high blood pressure," said Judith Alsop, director of poison control's Sacramento Division.

And it's not just teenagers who are drawn to the drinks, which typically contain two to three times the caffeine of a regular soda and nearly as much sugar, plus herbal ingredients such as caffeine-containing guarana.

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