Energy drinks are both an epidemic and part of the underage drinking problem, a group of Chamber of Commerce members were told Monday.
"Energy drinks are being used with other things," said Hannah McDonald, Youth Program coordinator. "They're being mixed with alcohol." When stimulants, in energy drinks, and depressants, mainly alcohol, are mixed, "the body doesn't know if it's had too much to drink."
"Once the stimulant wears off, you still have all that alcohol" in your system, said McDonald, of Partnership Carson City,
The proliferation of "alcopops," very sweet and flavored alcoholic drinks, are fueling an epidemic of underage drinking.
"They're thinking about how they can bring in young drinkers," McDonald said.
Nearly 41 percent of the alcoholic mixers, such as wine coolers, are consumed by underage drinkers. More of those underage drinkers are girls, she said.
"Teenage girls who binge drink are 63 percent more likely to be teenage mothers," she said.
If only drinking itself were the only problem, many teenagers and even middle school children are attempting to fool their parents and teachers by getting alcohol into their systems through various means which inject the alcohol directly into the blood stream. Many of the children are finding themselves left blind or infertile for their attempts, McDonald said.
If underage drinking weren't a problem enough, bath salts are on the rise.
"Bath salts are our new meth," she said. "They're a synthetic type or cocaine or methamphetamine."
The bath salts, synthetic drugs, are five times more reactive with the brain than their normal counterparts. They produce extreme paranoia and delusions and have been linked to multiple instances of extreme and extremely violent behavior, she said.
Fighting bath salts is a hard proposition because once one compound is turned illegal, producers can move their formula ever so slightly over, creating a product that is not technically illegal.
Spice, too, is an issue, McDonald said. Spice, which is supposed to be a synthetic form of the compound THC, which is found in marijuana, is nothing like its growing counterpart. The drug can cause "extreme paranoia and addiction," and many users find themselves stranded in a fugue state, waiting for months upon months "to feel normal again."
When it comes to drugs, one woman in the crowd suggested every parent to randomly drug test their children.
"I tell my parents to purchase drug testing kits and randomly test their kids," the woman said. "Our best safeguard is to drug test (them.)"