While energy drinks like Red Bull have become popular, new “anti” energy drinks have hit the market and offer the opposite effect. Rather than pepping up the user, the drink promises extreme relaxation. Being sold under brand names like Drank, Unwind, or Mary Jane’s Relaxation Soda, the drink offers effects similar to a homemade drug mixture known as Lean or Purple Drank which contains codeine laced cough syrup. The new anti-energy drinks are being marketed as “extreme relaxation beverages.”
Unlike their street counterparts, the commercial versions do not contain codeine; rather they contain natural ingredients like melatonin and kava kava. Since many of the natural ingredients used in anti-energy drinks are not FDA approved food additives, the drinks are sold as dietary supplements.
Users of anti-energy drinks report feeling effects similar to alcohol intoxication or to ingesting cold medication or cough syrup. The product contains sedating ingredients like melatonin, valerian root extract and kava kava. Consuming more than the recommended amount of the anti-energy drinks can lead to inebriation and loss of function. Little is known about the long term effects of the use of anti-energy drinks.
The label warns that use of the product may cause drowsiness and advises against driving or operating heavy machinery. It also warns against consuming more than two servings in a 24 hour period, which leads to concerns that the drinks could be abused in much the same way that Lean and cough syrup concoctions are abused. While being touted as a safe and legal alternative to drugs, experts fear that regular consumption of anti-energy drinks will act as a gateway to increased intoxication and further drug use.
Anti-energy drinks are available at convenience stores and are currently legal. However, they should be consumed with caution and with an understanding that there is little known about their overall effects. Willingly consuming a drink with sedative properties in order to reach an intoxicated state is risky and can compromise one’s judgment and health.