Straight Talk Advice

Nov 05, 2013

Dad has caffeine headache over “everywhere” drug

Dear Straight Talk: My son, 15, feels enormous social pressure to drink Starbucks and "energy" drinks. Of course he can say no, but when his peers are tanking up on these sugary caffeinated drinks, before school, at lunch, before sports, etc. — with other parents often buying — it's difficult not to succumb. How can I fight the "everywhere” drug, caffeine? —Caffeine Headache, Sebastopol, Calif.

Carlos 18, Fairfax, Va. Ask me a question

Sit him down and tell him all the negative effects. Caffeine will shut down his body’s natural energy, stain his teeth and make him fat. (Starbucks drinks are very high in calories.)

Brie 22, San Francisco Ask me a question

I work full time and go to school full time and am totally dependent on caffeine. I start my day with a mug of coffee followed by a Rockstar or Redbull midday. There are times my skin is flushed and I can feel my heart racing. Without coffee upon waking, I get a debilitating headache, which I can’t afford to have, so the cycle continues. As a teen, I hardly drank coffee and never used energy drinks. Now I buy them in bulk. The pressure to perform in school and do so many extra activities drives the need. Tell your son from me what a hassle it is when your body is addicted to caffeine!

Breele 19, Dana Point, Calif. Ask me a question

From my earliest memory, my mother rigorously enforced a no-caffeine rule. She told us it would stunt our growth, cause stress, interfere with our sleep, and block our body’s ability to generate its own energy. All true! Parents who look the other way allow a powerful addiction to imprint upon their child. To those kids who judge your son for not drinking coffee, get a life. To parents being “cool” treating kids to Starbucks, just stop.

Katelyn 18, Huntington Beach, Calif. Ask me a question

There's a Starbucks on my campus and energy-drink vending machines everywhere, but no one cares if you drink coffee and Monster or water and Gatorade. Encourage him to say “no” to his peers. If other parents are the suppliers, talk to them!

Treyvon 20, Yorba Linda, Calif. Ask me a question

American society turns a blonde eye to the fact that caffeine is a drug. Once addicted, you need your daily dose to maintain what was once your normal energy level. While an occasional coffee or tea is okay for adults, kids should avoid all caffeine. “Energy” drinks are bad at any age. Rockstar, Redbull and Monster would be banned if the FDA weren't asleep at the wheel.

Dear Caffeine Headache: Think your headache is bad now? Wake up and smell the caffeine-infused waffles, potato chips, jelly beans — and more. On beyond Starbucks, energy drinks and soda pop, the Wall Street Journal reports that caffeine-infused foods (mainly kid-centered) raked in $1.6 billion last year, up 50 percent since 2008. The corporatocracy doesn't think twice about drugging our kids for profits, no, it thinks thousands of times about it to make sure no child is left behind.

Solutions: Set a no-caffeine rule, rail against the drug in all its forms (shall we agree to exempt chocolate?), reduce lunch money to cover the basics, and inform other parents that your kids are not allowed caffeinated products. Your kids may groan, but they will interpret this as caring and it does make a difference.

Last word goes to Lennon…

Lennon 26, Los Angeles Ask me a question

My teen years were more about Gatorade and that’s what a friend's parent might buy me. Regarding the new caffeinated waffles, candies and snacks, how about injecting laxatives into everything the corporate leaders who make those products consume? Fair is fair.

Editor's Note: .To those of you who would like help kicking your caffeine addiction, a few years ago a teen wrote in asking for advice on just that. The panel shared a multitude of solid and inspiring ideas which I highly recommend. And I love what I had to say, too! I didn't pull any punches then either with these corporations who feed off their own young — plus I provided some interesting stats. Click here to read that column from JUL 14, 2010. You, too, can kick the caffeine habit and manufacture your own vitality! —Lauren

Caffeine amounts PER OUNCE
(source: Center for Science in the Public Interest):

Starbucks brewed coffee ...............   20mg/oz
*Jolt   .............................................. 11.9mg/oz
*Rockstar, Monster, Red Bull .........  10mg/oz
Starbucks Tazo Awake tea   .......... 8.4mg/oz
Starbucks mocha frappuccino  ...... 5.8mg/oz
Starbucks Tazo green tea latte ......  5mg/oz
home-brewed black or green tea   .... 3.5-10mg/oz
Coca-Cola  .....................................  2.9mg/oz
Starbucks Hot Chocolate  ............... 1.6mg/oz

*Note: Energy drinks have other stimulants besides caffeine and are considered a health hazard by many physicians. Combined with alcohol, they can be deadly (see our column of DEC 22, 2010).

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