Energy drinks are becoming increasingly more popular, especially with the younger demographic. The drinks can increase energy levels, alertness, your attention span, and even physical performance. These highly desirable effects make the drink particularly popular with people aged 18-26; those who are in college or starting their career. However, the number of older millennials, between 27-37, using energy drinks is rising rapidly. A lot of this is due to the amount of energy and attention being a parent requires. In 2018, Americans alone spent more than $3 billion on energy drinks.
Despite the positive effects of the drinks, there are many dangerous risks that accompany them. Caffeine intoxication is, of course, very common. But the real issues come when people combine energy drinks and alcohol or drugs.
Energy Drinks, Drugs, and Danger
The sheer amount of caffeine in these drinks is hidden by massive amounts of sugar, which masks the strong, bitter taste. Certain drinks even use caffeinated herbal additives, which allow it to be labeled as a supplement, thus avoiding having to declare how much caffeine is actually in the drinks on the nutrition label. Many of those herbal additives actually enhance the effect of the caffeine, making it that much more intense.
Research has even shown that a high percentage of people who regularly consume energy drinks, such as Red Bull or 5 Hour Energy, eventually transitioned into more intense, illegal stimulants, such as cocaine. A lot of the time, when someone regularly drinks energy drinks they develop a tendency towards risk-taking behaviors. It is along that path that many people find themselves using drugs.
Energy drinks have been proven to cause headaches, restlessness, migraines, gastrointestinal irritation, anxiety, insomnia, muscle twitching, and in extreme cases, even cardiac arrest. Due to its effects, certain scientists and researchers argue that they should be considered stimulant drugs. Mixing energy drinks with drugs is not uncommon, as users have discovered that the caffeine can intensify their high. But this is a dangerous combination.
Weed and Energy Drinks
One of the aspects of caffeine, which causes a minor euphoric feeling, is that it stimulates the production of dopamine in your brain. Marijuana also stimulates the production of dopamine, so using weed and energy drinks at the same time gives you nearly three times as much dopamine than in your day-to-day life. Although this may be appealing, researchers have cautioned that enhancing the high can make it more addictive. Along with that, research suggests that weed and energy drinks together may cause memory loss and anxiety.
Cocaine Energy Drink Caffeine Content
There is a popular, ultra-caffeinated energy drink on the market, named Cocaine. The idea behind the name was to use the connotation to the stimulant drug to give off the idea that the drink will contain just as much energy and hyperactivity as cocaine. Honestly, it kind of worked.
The problem is that the drink can be dangerous when used by the wrong people, in the wrong situation. The Cocaine energy drink caffeine content is shocking. One can contains 280 mg of caffeine, which makes it 3.5 times stronger than a Red Bull. The Cocaine energy drink side effects can result in caffeine intoxication, heart palpitations, nausea, paranoia, and other severe medical reactions.
Shortly after its release in 2006, it was banned by the FDA. But, although it is still illegal in Australia, the energy drink was re-released under the same name in 2008. Many question the government’s decision to lift the ban on such a strong, potentially dangerous substance, especially considering how accessible this drink is.
Energy Drinks and Alcohol
Although it says on a red bull bottle, in clear writing, “do not mix with alcohol” a popular alcohol beverage called a ‘Jägerbomb’ does just that. There are even pre-made beverages that combine those two drinks, such as Four Loko, Sparks, Joose, and Tilt. Four Loko is probably the most popular and has about as much caffeine as three cups of coffee.
People who combine energy drinks and alcohol are more prone to alcohol poisoning or ‘blackouts.’ This is because the caffeine in the drink masks the sedative effects of alcohol and people will drink more and more to feel the same effects. That over-drinking is what can cause alcohol poisoning or a blackout. Additionally, the combination of energy drinks causes a high risk of car accidents, fights, and unwanted sex. A large percentage of alcohol-related hospital visits are caused by energy drinks and alcohol.
Combining any drugs at all can put yourself and others at risk. Although energy drinks appear to be a solution for those in need of a burst of energy, motivation, and focus, the sheer amount of caffeine in these drinks is concerning. When taken with drugs such as marijuana, alcohol, and other prescription stimulants, its effects are amplified, but so do the side effects. It’s a dangerous game. It’s not worth the risk.