In recent months you may have heard that the FDA banned alcoholic energy drinks such as Four Loko, Joose and Sparks. Now, there is a new worry on the market.
We've all heard of energy drinks, but now there's a booming new beverage line on the market designed to do just the opposite - relax you.
They're called "relaxation drinks" or "anti energy drinks" and they're sold in convenience stores. They're creating quite a controversy.
"They take it and they're just like 'oh they make you feel good I'm relaxed, I'm chilling I'm leaning whatever,'" said Damian, a student.
The beverages are marketed with slogans that promote relaxing, unwinding and slowing down. Some teens say classmates use energy drinks to pep up-and then drink anti energy drinks to slow down and zone out.
"Some people don't like going to school so they take this so they can just crash in the middle of class," said Henry, another student.
Dr. Ron Peters is a public health expert who works with recovering addicts, like these teens. He's an outspoken critic of relaxation drinks and strongly believes they may lead some teens to try a dangerous homemade concoction called "purple drank," a potentially dangerous mixture of prescription cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine mixed with soda and candy to get that same high.
"This could be used actually as a gateway to drugs," said Peters.
One teen says the effect is comparable.
"It made me feel like I was on codeine," said Javier.
"Drank" beverage creator Peter Bianchi, known as the founder of the relaxation drink industry, says absolutely his beverages are marketed toward teens. Celebs are seen with them in hip music videos. But he stresses that his purple drinks are actually a safe alternative to drugs and alcohol.
"The product was designed to be a healthy alternative from reaching into the liquor cabinet to grab a bottle of Jack Daniels 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. While studies are mixed about the long term use of some of these ingredients, the feds are cracking down.
The FDA sent letter to Bianchi last year, warning melatonin is an unapproved food additive. 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 take the edge off help you relax and still wake up the next morning and not feel groggy its not like taking a medication," said Ingegno.
Another concern with some is the use of these drinks with energy drinks and the effect of what is considered an upper and downer used in a tight time frame. Some of the drinks also have warnings about driving after drinking them and driving, so while experts race to study the effects of these new drinks they warn anyone who uses them to take precautions.
"Now you just don't have to worry about just the drunk that is in a car but somebody that's went into a mom and pop store that bought too much anti energy drink and they get in a car and all of sudden they may get tired because they've had three cans of this stuff and they get in an accident," said Peters.