The journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence this month will contain a study, “Caffeinated Energy Drinks — A growing problem,” which expresses some serious concern and a lot of hoopla about caffeinated energy drinks. Some of their findings aren’t nonsense. For example, the idea that the labels should inform the consumer how much caffeine they’re about to ingest is a good idea. The idea that the labels should tell consumers to “not be a fucking idiot and drink more of this than you can handle” (my proposed label language) is also a good idea. Because otherwise you can get caffeine intoxication.
Death is bad. So are tremors, because that means if you move around on the ground the giant worms will find you and kill your ass. Or maybe that’s the DTs.
[ad#longpost]Anyway, they go on to talk about a survey of college students. Check this out.
First of all, I know college students are cheap lab rats because they’re usually right there on campus but I went to college in the early 90s, when the closest we had to an energy drink was Jolt Cola. These same “weekly jolt and crash episodes” are called being in college. They would have the same thing with cheap coffee. So is the problem with energy drinks or is the problem with caffeine or is the problem with Being in College. I worked a full-time job and went to school full-time and was in a band in college. I was constantly going to the doctor about stress problems. My point is that there’s a lot of shit going on and that maybe caffeine/energy drinks are only one piece of the puzzle. Also, if you’re drinking so many energy drinks that you’re getting heart palpitations, then you’re a fucking idiot and needed my aforementioned warning label. Same thing with mixing alcohol and caffeine–it’s pointless. Get drunk or get wired. Doing both just is a waste of time: you wind up back where you started.
Here’s where these folks really start to lose me:
Call me crazy, but…um, they are stimulants. That’s what caffeine is, cha-cha.
Wait, what? Look, I know I’m reading the Eureka Alert, and this journal may have gobs of data to back this up, but…what? Why aren’t you worried about coffee use? It’s the same–hate to use the S-word–stimulant. I know lots of people who drink coffee all day long. I know lots of people who drink multiple energy drinks each day. I know lots of people who drink soda all day long. I’ve never caught any of them popping Ritalin because the Diet Coke just wasn’t cutting it. Granted, that’s an unscientific observational thing I just did there. Maybe they’re doing it when I’m not around and getting ripped off their faces. But you more than likely know people who use energy drinks and other caffeinated products. And you probably know some people who use drugs. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of anyone I’ve known who dabbled in drugs where the caffeine had anything to do with it. They would have done it anyway. Christ, next thing you know they’re going to blame this on the Cocaine Energy Drink thing and Blow energy powder.
Potentially feeding. Which means you’ve done no actual studies that show that people using Blow or Cocaine will graduate into using actual cocaine–because if you had, you would have said so. I haven’t tried Blow–they never responded to my request for a sample–but I have tried Cocaine. The drink, mind you. And absolutely nothing about it made me want to snort cocaine. Miami Vice used the language of the illegal drug trade. All it did was screw up 80s fashion even worse than it already was. I bet you more lives have been ruined by the clothing trends caused by Miami Vice than have been ruined by people using drugs because those mean evil energy drinks roped them into it–who would have never touched the stuff if Red Bull hadn’t come along.
The American Beverage Assocation had a response. Let’s switch over to their press release for something, shall we?
This is true. Starbucks, for example, can have a shitload of caffeine. And honestly, an energy drink that does go above 200mg is rare. I know–if they were common, I would drink them more. Now, granted, their thing about the labels and consistency is not a bad point. But I think, just like any other over the counter service place, if the ingredients are available upon request, then you’re covered.
This is very true. I have not seen the full study. I’ve made that clear. But I don’t need a study to know that some people don’t need to pile on the caffeine like I do. They don’t have the tolerance. Actually, I envy them, because they’re probably slimmer and have more money than I do as a result. But no matter. People need to know their limits. Companies need to be truthful about their products so that people can adhere to their limits. But blaming the energy drink segment of the beverage industry for people overusing their pr is like blaming McDonald’s for people getting fat from eating there too much. Nobody held a gun to anybody’s head and made them order the triple Big Mac instead of a salad. Just like nobody held a gun to anybody’s head and made them grab one of those disgusting 6-hour energy shot things instead of something tastier–you know, like an old shoe.
To the Johns Hopkins researchers: instead of blaming the industry, educate people. And for fuck’s sake, don’t go waving the Drug Flag around, because that’s a sure fire way to not be taken seriously. And to the energy drink purveyors out there, clearly mark your drinks for what they have in them. It’s to your advantage: some people like me dig the insane ones.