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
Carlos, 18, Fairfax, Va.: 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: 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: 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: 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!