By Sophia Banos-Lindner, Staff Writer, The Pawprint
Energy drinks are made from various nutrients and chemicals to boost energy levels, alertness, and mental and physical health. However, they have a number of health concerns, such as their excessive sugar and caffeine content. One of these key concerns is addiction and dependence.
What is energy drink addiction?
Addiction is a psychological condition that involves an ongoing desire to use a substance or engage in a behavior, despite its negative consequences. Although they may not seem as harmful as drug addictions, food addictions, such as an energy drink addiction, share many behavioral similarities. What can make energy drinks addictive to some people is they contain several potentially habit-forming substances, such as caffeine, as well as sugar or artificial sweeteners. Energy drink addiction is defined as drinking excessive amounts of energy drinks without being able to control your intake.
Effects of energy drinks
There are many negative side effects to ingesting too much caffeine. Side effects of too much caffeine include:
- Increased heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
Getting an energy hit from an energy drink can entice addiction. As with most substances that alter the body’s chemistry, retuning the blood chemistry back to normal can produce uncomfortable symptoms as the body withdraws:
- marked fatigue
- Muscle Pain/Stiffness
- Lack of Concentration
- Flu-like symptoms
The severity of these symptoms increase depending on the number of energy drink servings you consume. These uncomfortable and unpleasant symptoms can lead to an individual drinking further servings in order to gain relief.
Who is most at risk from addiction to energy drinks?
There are two main categories of individuals that could be more at risk of developing an energy drink addiction than others:
- Energy drinks are easily available and provide a legal high appeal to teenagers. They are less likely to consider the potentially dangerous effects of these products.
- Individuals with addictive tendencies:
- Individuals with addictive tendencies are more prone to becoming addicted to energy drinks due to their previous substance abuse problems.
Treatment: How to quit energy drinks
While it may seem challenging to quit energy drinks, there are several ways to do so.
The two key ways to break an addiction include:
- Quitting energy drinks all at once, but it may result in withdrawal symptoms. That said, it may help your body recover from an energy drink addiction faster than tapering your intake.
- Reducing your energy drink intake slowly and methodically until you’re able to quit. Though it takes longer, it typically can help you avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s best to choose one that best suits your current lifestyle and personality.
Have an alternative to energy drinks, sometimes, the easiest way to fight an energy drink addiction is to replace it with something similar.
Here are some healthier alternatives that are either free of or lower in caffeine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners:
- Coffee, ideally decaf
- Water, infused with your favorite fruits
- Sparkling water, ideally unsweetened
- Green tea, including bottled sparkling versions
- Herbal or fruit teas
- Kombucha, or fermented tea