Don’t we all need a pick-me-up at times? When the day has been tough, relationships fail, work and money aren’t what they should be, or we still need to make it through another shift at work. Some people turn to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other addictions. Others turn to energy drinks. More and more Americans are using energy drinks to get them going, and to pick them up when they need a little extra help. While energy drinks do not seem to be as addicting or harmful as drugs or alcohol, they too can be abused, and the trend these days is for people to begin relying on them, or becoming dependent on them, which is unhealthy.
A Growing Industry
Energy drinks are highly marketed to groups of people that are always on the go and don’t like to slow down. In our busy world, we constantly see ads for energy drinks on prime time television, on the bus and on billboards, and on the internet. Some energy drinks convince the buyer that they will help them accomplish their goals, and that they will give them the energy needed to get through the day.
Energy drink sales are increasing as fast as 12% a year, and are projected to be at $9 billion by 2011. College students and athletes make up the largest group of consumers, but these drinks are also growing in popularity among overworked adults, parents, and even younger people.
Dangers of Energy Drinks
The problem with needing energy drinks is that any kind of dependence on a substance, even if it is caffeine, is unhealthy. Energy drinks, and caffeine in general, can become addicting and people can suffer withdrawal symptoms and develop a tolerance for it. Pretty soon, one energy drink is not enough, and it has to be two or three or four to make a difference. Caffeine can cause intoxication if consumed in large quantities. Symptoms of this include restlessness, incoherence, and stomach problems, and long term effects include anxiety, insomnia, and rapid heartbeat.
Just like with alcohol, energy drinks used in moderation are not harmful. But as soon as they are abused or needed to make it through a single day, they have become a bad habit, which could turn into an addiction.
Alcoholic Energy Drinks
As if pure energy drinks weren’t enough, certain beer manufacturers are now making alcoholic energy drinks. These are under investigation by the FDA because of the potential risks with drinks of this nature. Concerns about mixing alcohol with caffeine include giving the drinker a false sense of feeling sober, and possible long term cardiovascular and neurological damage. The FDA is working on regulations concerning these energy drinks, but so far, very little has been done to control the sale or usage. It is important for buyers to use these drinks in moderation, taking care to not begin to rely on them.