Saturday, November 29, 2008


Whoa up. Did you see the piece in today's Chronicle about anti-energy drinks? Come on, folks. Anti-energy?

It appears that this new trend takes its inspiration from the club crowd, high on Red Bull and other energy producing drinks and powders but wanting to come down. Rappers go on about their favorite beverage for this purpose: “sipping syrup”, which means, I gather, codeine cough syrup mixed with alcohol. Over the past 8 years three of them have died from the effects of such elixirs.

That is so totally cool in some quarters that companies have begun to market a carbonated version, substituting valerian root and melatonin for the codeine. Any member of the sleep-challenged menopausal brigade probably recognizes the names of those two natural and legal downers. They’re used by many people to induce sleep.

Although their effects when combined with alcohol—already a central nervous system depressant—have not been studied, those ingredients themselves aren’t really of particular concern. What rocks my boat is the fact that you’ve got a society, here, of people stimulating themselves from the moment they wake with uppers—legal ones like caffeine—then searching desperately to calm themselves at the end of the day with downers. To some degree, of course, it’s the way of Western Civilization--in Britain, all that tea and pubs; in France, morning coffee so stout you can walk upon it, followed by wine the rest of the day (although that process seems to be changing in recent months). Other cultures, too, seek enhancements on both ends of the energy spectrum. It may be a broad human need.

What’s different to me is the intensification. The new energy drinks offer huge amounts of caffeine, and people drink them into the night, to keep that “energy” going. They do this with a fine disregard for the poor old human nervous and circulatory system. We have limits and we don’t necessarily know what they are, physiologically, until we’ve passed them and bad things result. Panic and anxiety attacks are the least of it.

Most of us have approached the edge of our limits with the common caffeine shakes, just from a “normal” intake of coffee during work hours. Caffeine shakes are a warning, y’all.

I don’t know the physiology behind it, but I think of the process as a swing, arcing back and forth from a rope tied to a tree limb. The higher it’s pushed on each end, the more friction the rope sustains from the rough bark. Eventually, the rope breaks. A less extreme arc, and the rope will last much longer.

Given the discomfort of too much caffeine, though—shakes and quivering at 3 AM cannot be pleasant—it’s no surprise that people high on the energy drinks or whatever would want something to bring them down, smooth them out, let them sleep, but why don’t we call the whole progression by its proper name?

Because what it is, drug abuse.


Cher said...

Years ago I went to hear Mattress Mac give a talk to a group of law enforcement officers. After an hour of bragging (no judgment here, just fact!) he concluded that he'd done it all "drug free." The audience applauded loudly before they reached for their beer.

Just thought it ironic.

The Texas Woman

Bdogs said...

Absolutely. And most people never give it a moment's thought. Thanks for commenting!

Texas Legacy Lady said...

There is no doubt that the energy drinks provide a burst of energy. Caffeine in any form is a central nervous system stimulant which increases cardiac output, so it temporarily improves mental and physical performance.

It also seems to help improve the mood of some people. In my opinion, the energy drinks have drawbacks that outweigh any benefits for most people. Folks who suffer from heart problems like arrhythmias, palpitations and high blood pressure certainly should stay away from these drinks because of the stimulant effects on the heart. I would think that they would also aggravate the problems of anyone who suffers from panic attacks or anxiety problems.

Because of the high caffeine content those with kidney disease, esophageal reflux (heartburn), premenstrual symptoms or insomnia as well as those on antidepressants should stay away from them. I'm sure there are more symptoms or diseases that would be aggravated by use of the energy drinks.

To think that now they need a "downer" to calm them down from their "energy drink induced high" or would consider mixing the drink with alcohol just begs for problems leading to serious consequences.

We drink Luzianne Decaffeinated Tea and 1/2 caf coffee trying to avoid caffeine. Perhaps I could use a "burst of energy" but I'm sure not going to get it from a Red Bull, etc.

Also, parents who won't allow their children to drink coffee evidently don't know that these drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine.

In addition, when a young person consumes five, six or more Red Bull and vodka drinks in a relative short time...a few hours, they've exceeded a safe level of consumption of the drugs. This can lead to aggression, date rape, inability to make good judgements, loss of inhibition, blackouts and perhaps more tragic events.

The energy drinks "boost" followed later by the anti-energy drink as the Chronicle article says, to "slow your roll" just seems like a train wreck ready to happen.

Anonymous said...

I hear they have caffeinated water now...crazy!

Thanks for stopping by the domestic fringe. Hope you come again for a visit.

PJ's talkin'.... said...

Now I know a thing or two about energy drinks. I was clueless, didn't realize they are so hot! My heart couldn't take it, nor would I want to. So many are followers, they've stopped thinking for themselves. A good night sleep will do wonders for my energy level. Wonder when that went out of fashion...

Sydney said...

aah yes, in the 80's it was doing cocaine and drinking and doing quaaludes or valium to come down, then getting relaxed enough to do another line and this is how people ended up staying up for days and dying of a heart attack in their hot tubs. That drug was not seen to be like acid or a REAL drug. Cocaine was like coffee, kind of... destroyed all kinds of "respectable" business men and women who lost their homes and families as a result of becoming obsessed with the combo. And now, red bull and relaxant drinks. I hadn't heard of the latter. Thanks god I am keeping hip by reading your blog, lol.

It will blast people's adrenals out, like putting a brick on the accelerator. But it's a youth and energy driven society. I had to stop drinking an caffeine 2,5 years ago, and I thought to myself -- how would the world be if everyone could not have their Starbucks or take another sip of coca cola. Might the whole place come to a screeching halt and everyone be dead by 40 like the old days? Or would folks eventually get back their energy, albeit with it's natural ebbs and flows?