College teenagers are always resorting to energy drinks to revive them for studying or even to help them energize for a night out. Almost all college students are consuming caffeine in some form throughout the day and studies show that too much can be dangerous, especially when mixed with alcohol.
Caffeine is a chemical stimulant that affects the central nervous system called trimethylxanthine and, surprisingly, it shares similar traits with serious drugs such as cocaine and heroine. Caffeine affects two important neurotransmitters: adenosine and dopamine. Caffeine blocks adenosine reception to prevent drowsiness and instead injects adrenaline. Caffeine then also increases levels of dopamine to make you feel good. Similarly, heroine and cocaine use the same system but instead slow down dopamine reabsorption.
So what’s a safe level of caffeine? The Mayo Clinic reported that, “Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two ‘energy shot’ drinks.” However, that doesn’t mean that you should consume 400mg because according to The National Council on Strength and Fitness, “Research suggests that caffeine consumption during adolescence (approximately 220mg per day) is associated with increased impulsivity, sensation seeking, and risk-taking behaviors – such as is seen with illicit drug and tobacco use. One particular study revealed that consuming four or more caffeinated beverages a day during adolescence was associated with daily cigarette use, aggressive behavior, and attention and conduct problems.” All of the possible outcomes listed are activities teenagers can very easily get involved in. Although, it seems farfetched that caffeine is associated with cigarette use and aggressive behavior it additionally has other health consequences that are problematic.
I know personally just after a cup of coffee I feel extremely anxious and jittery. Caffeine can lead to increased heart rate, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, and more. In an article by Keith Cambrel, Steve Clarke (Director of the College Alcohol Abuse Center) stated, “‘Energy drinks have a lot of stimulants in them like ginseng and taurine, while alcohol is a depressant so by mixing the two you’re sending mixed messages to your nervous system which can cause cardiac related problems.’” Everything is always best taken in moderation so if you are planning to consume energy drinks and alcohol together you need to lower your intake of both. Not only does alcohol dehydrate you but so does caffeine, which is dangerous to your well being and will leave you with a terrible hangover the next day, so reconsider that Four Loko you planned on drinking tonight.
“Caffeine.” Teens Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://kidshealth.org/teen/food_fitness/nutrition/caffeine.html#>.
“Caffeine Consumption among Children and Adolescents.” National Council on Strength on Fitness. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www.ncsf.org/enew/articles/articles-CaffeineConsumptionChildrenAdolescents.aspx>.
Cambrel, Keith. “Mixing Alcohol & Energy Drinks May Spell Disaster.” Alcohol Problems and Solutions. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://www2.potsdam.edu/alcohol/HealthIssues/1043185105.html#.VHqaU2TF-ts>.
Marshall, Brian, Charles Bryant, and Matt Cunningham. “How Caffeine Works.” How Stuff Works. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2014. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/caffeine5.htm>.