Recovery is working towards sobriety from any mood-altering substance. There are doctors and counselors who include legal mood-altering substance like caffeine and nicotine on the list of substances to be avoided. Yet many people recovering from addictive behaviors seem to live on energy drinks full of caffeine and other stimulants. This behavior naturally leads to the question, are energy drinks a relapse?
Are Energy Drinks a Relapse: How do Energy Drinks Work?
Energy drinks are full of caffeine and other stimulants plus vitamins and minerals. When you become addicted to energy drinks, you are addicted to the caffeine content.
How do you know if you have a caffeine addiction? If you feel like you cannot function in the morning without first having an energy drink or cup of coffee, your body is addicted to caffeine. Other symptoms of caffeine addiction include headaches, brain fog, and edginess or irritability.
Research shows the maximum amount of caffeine you should have each day is 300-400 mg. A 16 ounce cup of coffee in the morning has 170 mg. Even consuming a smaller cup of coffee with 100 mg of caffeine daily can cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop having that morning cup.
So, where does energy drinks fall into the equation? Energy drinks contain 80-500 mg of caffeine per serving. Red Bull has 80 mg of caffeine per 8.4 ounces. Other energy drinks contain more.
So, drinking two or more energy drinks can exceed the recommended daily allowance of caffeine and cause the jitters. The problem is, many people do not recognize caffeine addiction as a serious problem until severe symptoms cause problems in relationships or at work, much like any other substance abuse.
Are Energy Drinks a Relapse: What’s Your Motive?
For many people around the world, a cup of coffee or tea during the day is just a drink to be enjoyed. There is no excessive drinking or withdrawal symptoms if a day goes by without caffeine.
For thousands of others, caffeine is a fix needed to stave off headaches and the jitters which come all too quickly in the mornings. These people are addicted and are usually oblivious to the negative effects their addiction is causing throughout the day.
Caffeine is a drug that can cause serious side effects when abused. Excessive caffeine use can cause insomnia, nervousness, headaches, increased or irregular heartbeat, anxiety, confusion, delirium, muscle trembling, nausea, and vomiting. Many of the same symptoms as withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.
While you may believe, it takes a lot of caffeine to cause these symptoms; the truth is daily caffeine intake can be exceeded with 2 to 3 energy drinks depending on the brand. So, if you are consuming multiple energy drinks during the day, you need to ask yourself a few questions to decide if you have an energy drink addiction.
- Do you enjoy energy drinks for the focus they produce?
- How many energy drinks do you have each day?
- Do you feel jittery before or after drinking energy drinks?
- How many energy drinks do you drink at one time?
- Do you drink energy drinks to change your mood or help you feel more alive?
- Do you drink energy drinks when you are hungry to avoid eating?
- Does your sponsor or counselor know about your energy drink use?
Caffeine is a drug and you will need to decide if abstinence is right for you. But if you engage in the same addictive behaviors with caffeine as you did with drugs and alcohol, please seek help.
Are Energy Drinks a Relapse: Gateway Back to Drugs and Alcohol or Mental Illness?
While riding the bull may give you wings, drinking energy drinks excessively can cause relapse and sometimes, mental illness.
One study found that three bipolar patients relapsed when binging on energy drinks. They binged on energy drinks, consuming up to nine cans per day. Each participant relapsed while binging. Once the participants stopped binging on energy drinks, he or she abstained from substance abuse.
The previous study showed the effects of energy drinks on people with co-occurring disorders of bipolar and substance abuse. What happens when someone with no history of mental illness consumes energy drinks excessively?
One 31-year-old female graduate student used excessive caffeine to improve her college performance. She was consuming 5 cups of coffee and 3-4 energy drinks per day. She increased her consumption to 5 cups of coffee and 10 energy drinks per day, approximately 1300 mg of caffeine.
With the increase of caffeine, she suffered from auditory hallucinations, delusions of grandeur, hyperactivity, aggression, and insomnia. She had no earlier history of psychosis. Medications did not help her symptoms. When she stopped drinking the energy drinks, the symptoms went away. When she relapsed on energy drinks, the symptoms returned.
The report states that consuming more caffeine than 10-15 mg/kg of body weight is associated with development of psychosis.
Are Energy Drinks a Relapse: When to Get Help?
While many recovery centers ban energy drinks due to the addictive nature of caffeine, only you can decide if abstinence is right for you when at home. Occasional use of energy drinks is not a cause for concern. But, if you suffer from withdrawal and cannot function without energy drinks, we can help. Call Northlake Recovery at (561)-770-6616 for information on caffeine detox and addiction recovery support. All calls are confidential and insurance verification is free.