Energy drinks have gained significant popularity over the years, especially among teens and young adults. Many people believe these beverages give them more energy, mental alertness and physical performance. However, a growing body of research suggests these products may pose substantial health risks, particularly when combined with other substances like alcohol or marijuana.
Active Ingredients in Energy Drinks and Their Effects
The primary ingredients in most energy drinks include caffeine, taurine, guarana and various sugars. What effects do these have?
- Caffeine: As a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine can boost alertness and energy in the short term. However, consistently high amounts can lead to severe heart and blood vessel problems, including heart rhythm disturbances, increased heart rate and blood pressure. It may also cause anxiety, sleep issues, digestive problems and dehydration. The amounts of caffeine in energy drinks vary widely, and it is difficult to determine the actual caffeine content in any given beverage.
- Taurine: Though taurine is an amino acid often touted for its potential to enhance athletic performance and mental acuity, its safety and efficacy in high doses remain understudied.
- Guarana: A plant native to the Amazon, guarana naturally contains caffeine. Adding this ingredient to energy drinks further increases the total caffeine content, amplifying potential health risks.
- Added sugars: A single 16-ounce energy drink can contain 54 to 62 grams of added sugar. This amount far exceeds the recommended daily intake, contributing to obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Combining Energy Drinks With Alcohol and Marijuana
Energy drink enthusiasts who mix their favorite beverages with alcohol or marijuana can experience dangerous side effects.
- Alcohol: Combining alcohol with energy drinks can mask alcohol’s sedative effects, causing people to underestimate their intoxication level. This misjudgment can increase the likelihood of risky behaviors, including drunk driving and other substance use. Despite feeling alert, a person who mixes alcohol with energy drinks may have severely impaired motor coordination and reaction time.
- Marijuana: Combining energy drinks with marijuana can lead to an alert intoxication. The energy drink’s stimulant effects may counteract the drowsiness often associated with marijuana, potentially leading to increased consumption of both substances. This combined use can exacerbate anxiety, heart problems and other health issues.
The Impact of Energy Drinks for Young Men
According to the National Institutes of Health, men between the ages of 18 and 34 are the largest consumers of energy drinks. Unfortunately, these popular beverages contribute to increased health problems among young people. A growing collection of research suggests that young adults who frequently consume energy drinks are at a higher risk of developing anxiety and depression. They may have trouble sleeping and engage in more dangerous, attention-seeking behavior. Young people’s cardiovascular and nervous systems are still developing, making them particularly susceptible to these beverages’ adverse effects.
At PACE Recovery, we are profoundly concerned about the widespread use of energy drinks and their potential dangers, particularly when combined with other substances. If you struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues, please reach out to us today. We look forward to helping you live a healthier, substance-free life.