Rethinking Energy Drinks

It should strike as no surprise that the novelty that is energy drinks has seemingly swept up teenagers everywhere. From Red Bull to Monster Energy, Rockstar to Full Throttle, highly caffeinated, sugar-saturated energy drinks sit fully stocked in supermarkets and convenience stores across the nation, tantalizing teens with promises of rapidly increasing alertness and vigor. But as with any product that sounds too good to be true, it's time for a reassessment.

It's worth mentioning that Packaged Fact's Energy Drinks and Shots: U.S. Market Trends report found that the energy drinks and shots market burgeoned 60 percent from 2008-2012 and garnered over $12.5 billion in U.S. sales in 2012 alone. Clearly, many young people have found some way to make consuming energy drinks a staple in their daily regimes, perhaps as either a quick grab-and-go in order to power through a busy schedule, a way to compensate for a lack of sleep, or even a way to portray a certain image of toughness and coolness that supposedly accompanies tolerance to the incredibly high caffeine levels.

What I fear is that teens may be giving little attention to energy drinks' startling ramifications upon extensive consumption, effects which have been noted to include heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches, and increased blood pressure. Not to mention, the seemingly addictive nature of these products, coupled with the dangerous trend of combining them with alcohol, can truly extend the list indefinitely.

And these points are not made without basis. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration conducted a survey of 230 U.S. hospitals and approximated that the number of emergency room visits owing to energy drinks increased from 10,000 to over 20,000 from 2007 to 2011.

It's clear to me that an unsightly link lies between extensive consumption and the less-than-ideal bodily impacts, but in my experience, it seems that some young people would rather close their eyes to this reality. After all, I am familiar with teens who have downed at least two energy drinks within a short period of time in a single day in response to a dare.

All I can say about this is, let the sobering truth ring clear: being young is not synonymous
with being invincible.  

Of course, all this is not to suggest that individuals everywhere should adhere to a strict regimen of skim milk and apple juice for the rest of their lives. I just think there's something to be said for the noticeably negative effects that routine use of energy drinks seems to cause, and I call on us teens to be more mindful of the substances we put in our bodies. We are what we drink, so a twist on a classic saying goes, and it's high time for teens to grasp that.