By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA, OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Many young adults consume energy drinks for many perceived benefits.

A previous post discussed energy drinks worsening attention (1). This could negatively impact academic performance.

Energy drink users are at risk of:

  • Increased energy drink related emergency department visits (2)
  • 4 times more likely than non-energy drink users to binge drink at higher intensity vs those who do not mix energy drinks and alcohol (2)
  • More likely than drinkers who do not mix alcohol with energy drinks to report unwanted or unprotected sex, driving drunk or riding with a driver who was intoxicated, or sustaining alcohol-related injuries (2)

What’s in energy drinks?

Most energy drinks contain caffeine, and other supplements such as sugar, other stimulants such as taurine, vitamins, etc (3).

What are some side effects of energy drinks?

While energy drinks may benefit exercise and sport performance, various side effects are also possible, such as (3):

  • Cardiovascular side effects: Increased heart rate, blood pressure, arrythmia, and heart disease, including heart attacks (3).
  • Mental health side effects: anxiety, insomnia, hallucinations, violent behaviors; often with doses of 300mg or more (3)
  • Many people have side effects on much lower doses, especially when stressed.
  • Other side effects are also possible (3).

A recent study (4) of 3,071 youth aged 9 to 17 surveyed their energy drink use, alcohol, tobacco use at baseline and 12 months later.

What were the results?

After 1 year, among energy drink users, when compared to non-energy drink users (4):

  • 29% started using tobacco vs 5.6% of non-energy drink users (4).
  • 30% started using alcohol vs 10% of non-energy drink users. (4).
  • Energy drink users also reported more school stress than non-energy drink users (4).

What are some caveats?

  • This is an association study and does not tell us about cause and effect.
  • Many energy drinks contain both caffeine and sugar; and some contain other additives that may have other side effects.
  • Some people are more sensitive to the effects and side effects of caffeine, and energy drinks than others, even in lower amounts.
  • further studies are needed.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

  3. Alsunni A. A. (2015). Energy Drink Consumption: Beneficial and Adverse Health Effects. International journal of health sciences9(4), 468–474.
  4. Galimov, A., Hanewinkel, R., Hansen, J., Unger, J. B., Sussman, S., & Morgenstern, M. (2020). Association of energy drink consumption with substance-use initiation among adolescents: A 12-month longitudinal study. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 34(2), 221–228.

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Posted by R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU CCS Psychiatrist at 12:10pmPosted in CaffeineEnergy Drinks Tagged anxietycaffeineenergy drinksenergy drinks and substance useinsomniamental health side effects of energy drinksmixing energy drinks and alcoholside effects of energy drinks

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