Energy drink binge not worth the health risks

The end of the semester has left our campus full of sleep-deprived zombies. The final push toward winter break has left so many baggy-eyed students wandering around that some have turned to stimulants to power through those all-night cram sessions as we all look for that extra boost to catapult us into the job of our dreams. Sometimes it can seem like there isn’t enough time in the day.

As college students, it’s easy to make school a top priority. In fact, we’re encouraged to do so. But there are negative repercussions for this course of action. College students often deprioritize health and overconsumption of caffeine is a prime example of this.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera recently raised eyebrows by accusing the energy drink Monster of being responsible for a recent spike in hospitalizations.

The need to use these outside stimulants comes partly from the busy nature of college life, but also from the overwhelming pressure to succeed. While it may seem that caffeinating yourself into a jittery daze is the easiest way to power through the end of the semester, stressed out students would be better served by finding ways to relax rather than finding new ways to hop themselves up.

A study published in the April/May 2011 issue of the “Journal of American College Health” showed a positive correlation between perceived stress and energy drink consumption among college males, especially among upperclassmen. The study, “Perceived Stress, Energy Drink Consumption, and Academic Performance Among College Students,” found that students who were more stressed out were more likely to have consumed at least one energy drink within the last 30 days.

Researchers of the study supposed that the results show that as students become increasingly involved in their major courses, they are more susceptible to stress and therefore more likely to engage in unhealthy coping methods, including substance abuse in the form of alcohol, drugs, tobacco and caffeine.

But the worst part is that it doesn’t even help. Authors of the study reported that as energy drink consumption increased, academic performance decreased.

The pattern of behavior that this represents is that students are often looking for the quick fix for problems that require a long term solution. While that instant jolt from that can of noxious energy drink can get you through the term paper you’re working on, it won’t get you any closer to achieving your ultimate goals.

It begs the question, what is it about our society that makes us so hungry for success that we’re willing to ingest these potentially dangerous beverages to keep ourselves from falling behind?

Part of this ceaseless drive to succeed might come from the depressed job market and the fact that we’ve had drilled into our heads the idea that only the best and brightest will get jobs after graduation. With these doomsday proclamations fresh in our minds, it’s no wonder that many of us are willing to go to extreme lengths to gain that extra edge.

What we need to do as a society is encourage healthy habits and find ways to relax, not focus on finding coping methods. Exercise, meditation and quick breaks are all healthy alternatives to shotgunning Monsters.