A new anti-energy drink called Drank is causing a bit of a stir. According to public health experts the drink is a poorly veiled attempt to cash in on a popular illegal homemade cough syrup concoctions known as “purple drank” that has been mentioned in rap music and may already be being abused by teens. Drank is thought to be unsafe because it could help promote the use of such substances among teens and may contain substances that could be just as harmful to those who drink the beverage. Drank bills itself as an “Extreme Relaxation Beverage.” The sugary drink contains the hormone melatonin and the herb valerian root, and the can carries this warning: “This product may cause drowsiness. Not recommended more than 2 servings within a 24 hour period.”
Could these public health experts be right in worrying? According the manufacturers of the beverage any such concerns are baseless. In fact the drug was made as an alternative to such substances.
“Drank did not invent the illicit street drug nor does its marketing campaign encourage anyone to try it,” said Peter Bianchi, chief executive officer of Innovative Beverage Group of Houston, in a written statement. “In fact, Drank was created as an alternative to drugs and alcohol, and remains a positive product to consume for relaxation. Drank was created to be a mainstream product, appealing to a wide audience and prides itself on being a go-to beverage for professionals, stay-at-home parents, athletes, stressed students and anyone else looking for a way to relax.”
The illegal “purple drank” usually contains codeine cough syrup mixed with Sprite and candy such as Jolly Ranchers. The parallels are certainly there and addiction counselors who deal with teens who’ve abused the illegal substance say that it’s enough to make them worry.
“It’s promoting the drug [purple drank],” said Michelle Hemm, director of Dallas programs for Phoenix House, a treatment center for youths. “They weren’t trying to disguise what they’re promoting.”
The melatonin contained in the product is also a source of concern, This is because the 1 mg of melatonin is enough to produce a drowsy effect and does so very quickly due to the liquid form the beverage contains. This fact reaction could make things like driving unsafe especially if the beverage is mixed with alcohol as many energy drinks are.
So could a beverage like Drank pose a problem for teens? According the youths who’ve tried both the effect isn’t as strong but a person who’d never had the real deal could be tempted to try it looking for a stronger reaction.