As the Red Bull mobile pulls up to PBA, like moths to a flame, students run
towards it to get their free Red Bull fix. But what few students realize is that a new study
recently published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence says that energy drinks
could result in caffeine toxicity and addiction. The study also states that energy drinks
can increase a young person’s chance of abusing harder drugs.
In another study published by the American College of Health in March 2008,
students who drank at least six energy drinks per month were three times as likely to have
smoked cigarettes, abused prescription drugs and been involved in fights. Health
officials also reported that these individuals have more alcohol-related problems, used
marijuana twice as often as non-consumers, engage in unsafe sex, and choose not to use a
seatbelt or other risky behaviors.
Energy drinks are very appealing to college-age students because their ads
promote weight loss, good health, a “legal high,” a boost of energy, and a link to
succeeding in extreme sports.
Junior Juan Villagrana said that he drinks Monster and Red Bull. He chooses to
do so because he is an athlete.
“I’m always tired because I’m constantly busy. [These drinks] give me energy,
and I also like the taste,” Villagrana said.
Some students said they are at a time in their lives when stress is high and they
have little time on their hands to eat, drink or sleep. With final exams rapidly
approaching, some students say they need all the extra energy they can snatch up to pass
“I would rather get the energy I need from my diet, but sometimes you need an
extra boost to get that additional hour of studying in,” said Senior Tom McCarthy.
Energy drinks like Monster, Full Throttle, Red Bull and others account for $3
billion in annual sales in the United States and roughly one-third of people between the
ages of 12 to 24 said they drink them on a regular basis according to the New York
Thirty-one percent of U.S. teens drink energy drinks. One drink called Cocaine
Energy Drink has a “secret ingredient” that numbs your throat as you drink it, hence the
name. Many parents and informed young adults wonder if that is a coincidence, since that
the demographic is targeted at teens.
Several energy drinks do provide a subtle warning label somewhere on the can.
Monster can warns: “consume responsibly limit three cans per day. Not recommended for
children, pregnant women or people sensitive to caffeine.” The caffeine in one can of Red
Bull equals that of one cup of filtered coffee.
But students should also be wary as to how much coffee they are drinking as well.
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks ranges from none to more than 100 mg
per ounce, about nine times the caffeine in one cup of coffee. The side effects of too
much caffeine can include: excitability, high blood pressure, heart palpitations, physical
addiction, dehydration, kidney failure, shock, coma, and other complications.
As for caffeine leading to hard drugs, students feel that if they restrain themselves
on their caffeine intake, they will be okay.
“I feel like I have enough control over my body to not want to use hard drugs,”
Negative side effects will vary from person to person due to each person’s body
structure, weight and how much caffeine the body is used to getting. Most people should
be okay as long as it’s in moderation.
Mixing Red Bull with vodka is a popular drink among students across the
country, but studies have shown the caffeine in the energy can mask how intoxicated a
person is, potentially leading to alcohol poisoning or other dangerous behaviors one
wouldn’t normally pursue.
Students in need of an energy boost should try to stay away from caffeine
in energy drinks and coffee; instead, ingest healthy drinks and foods providing energy.
Drinks such as orange juice and other juices containing vegetables and fruit are a good
source of energy. Some foods that will boost your immune system and give you that pick-
me-up are:berries, vegetables, salmon, lean proteins, eggs, yogurt, and nuts.