So many people have given up soft drinks for energy drinks, that it’s now a billion dollar industry. Currently, there are at least 200 energy drinks on the market. So is it safe to get an energy drink buzz? Well, it CAN lead to bad behavior!

Researcher Dee Rollins says, “There was a time when we would get our caffeine intake from coffee and cola, but now there are a number of caffeine containing beverages and we need to be careful because over a period of 24 hours that caffeine intake is cumulative.” In fact, experts say energy drink consumers should keep careful track of the amount of caffeine they get in a day.

According to Rollins, “400 milligrams is roughly the equivalent of just one energy drink and two cups of coffee. Getting more than that can lead to jitteriness, nausea, heart palpations?and in extreme cases more severe symptoms. It can be so bad that if you take too much caffeine you can end up in the hospital thinking you have flu-like symptoms and really it’s caffeine overdose. We don?t think of caffeine as being a drug that we need to monitor, but we can overdo it.”

Over the last decade, energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar have become nearly ubiquitous on college campuses. The global market for these types of drinks currently exceeds $3 billion a year and new products are introduced annually.

Researcher Kathleen E. Miller found that, like too much alcohol, the over consumption of energy drinks among college students leads to what she calls “toxic jock identity,” characterized by hyper-masculinity and risk-taking behaviors among college-age athletes. Frequent energy drink consumers (six or more days a month) were 3 times as likely than less-frequent energy drink consumers or non-consumers to have smoked cigarettes, abused prescription drugs and been in a serious physical fight in the year prior to the survey. They reported drinking alcohol, having alcohol-related problems and using marijuana about twice as often as non-consumers. They were also more likely to engage in other forms of risk-taking, including unsafe sex, not using a seatbelt, participating in an extreme sport and doing something dangerous on a dare.

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