January 15, 2013

Part of being a filthy freelancer is the luxury of relaxation, where I can allow my body to shut down for 15 minutes when it needs to and pass out on the couch without doing too much harm to my productivity. The flip side of that is people who’ve got to keep going with no break — not at the office, not at the dinner table, not at the club — until whenever they go to sleep, which is why usage of energy drinks has skyrocketed over the last decade: because there’s just no time to sleep. With the increased usage, though, comes an increased hospitalization for misuse of products like Monster, 5-hour Energy and Red Bull — nearly tenfold between 2005 and 2011, according to the Atlantic by way of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The average energy drink doesn’t contain as much caffeine as your average cup of coffee. But the guarana in these drinks may function as an extra stimulant, and consuming them alongside alcohol has become part and parcel of the going out experience; you can order a Red Bull vodka, but not a coffee vodka. (Not at your typical bar, at least, though coffee-infused drinks are also becoming more prevalent. It’s different, though.) The charts note 14,042 emergency room visits in 2011 because of adverse reaction, compared with 840 in 2005; similarly, 6,090 visits today because of misuse compared to 583 then.

Not that this means you should completely go cold turkey whenever you need an extra boost. (Though you probably should, or consider some healthier alternative like green tea or cocaine.) But if the last reports about 5-hour Energy causing a spontaneous abortion didn’t freak you out, maybe the thought of paying an unnecessary hospital bill will.  Just take a nap, or maybe go home when you feel your body shutting down. It’s, like, the lamest reason to go to the emergency room.

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