Alcoholic Energy Drinks Confuse Consumers

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

It looks like an energy drink, it tastes like an energy drink, but beware, it may be full of alcohol.

Energy drinks have exploded onto the market promising a quick pick-me-up, but now, some are offering much more than just a boost.

The drinks have now gotten the attention of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission who says it's just too easy for kids to get their hands on them.

"Someone who's picking up the alcohol may not know, they may think they're getting a regular energy drink and they may buy one that has alcohol in it," Brent Blackburn, Director of the Midland Coalition, said.

Drinks that contain alcohol and look almost identical to wildly popular energy drinks are beginning to make their way to shelves all over the U.S. including here in West Texas.

"We are starting to see them, it hasn't completely saturated our market but there are a few stores that are starting to carry these," Blackburn said. "It will only get more and more, they will start to saturate as time goes on."

And that has state officials and substance abuse experts worried.

TABC agents tell me that kids could either pick them up by mistake or buy them hoping adults will not realize what's inside.

"Your energy drinks probably cost $2.50-$3 dollars a piece," Blackburn said. "Our ones that contain alcohol are typically cheaper. A dollar, two dollars, maybe something like that, so they're cheaper than their counter parts that do have alcohol in them."

TABC says these drinks contain more alcohol than beer. Brands like Joose contain over 9 percent alcohol.

The Palmer Drug Abuse Program in Midland wants to get the word out.

"The labeling on the energy drinks is not sufficient so that people even understand that they're buying something with alcohol in it," Blackburn said. "A retailer may not even know that they're selling something that contains alcohol.

But don't count on your tastebuds to warn you that the drink contains alcohol. They taste just like your average energy drink.

"If you're a parent, look at your kid's energy drink just to make sure," Blackburn said. "You don't have to say anything. You can look at it without saying anything."

Next week, the TABC will hold a state-wide meeting to discuss labeling for these energy drinks.

29 states are appealing to the U.S. Attorney General to require a larger label, warning people about the contents.