Many of us either struggle with addiction or know someone who does. It could be with food, alcohol, cigarettes, or something worse. The American Psychiatric Association describes addiction as “a brain disease that is manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.” (1)

There are numerous things one can become addicted to, and energy drinks seem to be high on that list. An energy drink is a liquid that’s intended to boost performance and mood levels, and while it may deliver on its promise, some of the side effects are a cause for concern.

Losing A Life To Addiction

Shani Clarke, an Australian mother, noticed an alarming amount of energy drinks in her son’s truck one day and cautioned him about drinking too many. Thirty-five-year-old Michael Clarke shrugged off his mother’s concerns and was unfortunately found dead in his truck a few weeks later from caffeine toxicity. She expressed her heart-wrenching grief at losing her son but has since learned to channel her grief into power by using her son’s tragic story to help others kick the habit.

Cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, the top seven addictions are (2):
1. Love
2. Processed Food
3. Cigarettes
4. Heroin
5. Psychotropic Drugs
6. Alcohol
7. Cocaine

According to Dr. Leaf, if we are made to be addicted to love, then toxic addictions are a form of distorted love. She suggests that there is a negative and positive side of addiction. Most often we think of the negative side, especially when we think about the cases of drug overdoses. Addictions are bad habits that we create over a period of time, but the good news is, since we aren’t born with them we can get rid of them. Some more easily than others, of course.

The Danger Of Seemingly Benign Addictions

According to a CNN.com report, “most energy drinks typically contain large amounts of caffeine, added sugars, vitamins, such as B vitamins, and legal stimulants, such as guarana, a plant that grows in the Amazon; taurine, an amino acid that’s naturally found in meat and fish, and L-carnitine, a substance in our bodies that helps turn fat into energy.” (3)

Sounds almost healthy, doesn’t it? Then why is there an increase in cardiac illnesses, a few ending in death? According to the Journal of the American Heart Association, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents show 34 deaths were the result of energy drink consumption since 2004.

Each ingredient in an energy drink alone may not be problematic, but when used together with other external agents like coffee, medication, or other psychotropic drugs, can become fatal. The amount of caffeine in each drink is also a cause for concern as it far exceeds the FDA recommended 400mg per day, which is equivalent to approximately four or five cups of coffee. (5)

Scientists continue to study how these drinks interact with the human body once ingested. A 2019 publication from the American Heart Association noted that energy drinks caused increased heart and blood pressure rates and can lead to a fatal arrhythmia. (4)

Hope For The Future

Most people dig themselves out of addictions not with medications, but by choice and perseverance. And, if they’re lucky, support from those around them. Realizing that there is a root cause for the addiction, is the first step to change. Drinking too many energy drinks is a bad habit that can be changed by reprogramming associated thoughts.

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