We see them everywhere.
Calling to us from coffee shops and convenient stores, the platform of beverages, powders and pills entice us to “go faster,” “be stronger” and “last longer.”
To students — all, for the most part legally adults and able to make their own decisions — buckling under the weight of full-time classes and jobs they seem like a godsend. And as our country gets busier and busier, we are constantly surprised when the long-term affects of these “godsends” finally surface.
Since November, the federal government and the New York Attorney General’s office has been investigating the popular 5-Hour Energy drink in connection with over 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations over the past four years (as reported by ABC News).
Other drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar have also been linked to similar deaths and hospitalizations since 2004.
Investigations are ongoing and the founder and CEO of 5-Hour Energy told reporters that the product does not do any harm.
While no deaths have been proven to be the direct result of drinking 5-Hour Energy shots, the company’s sales and stocks have marginally decreased in the past few months.
The main point of contention with these drinks in relation to possible health hazards is the amount of caffeine contained in each bottle.
The New York Times reported that a 5-Hour Energy shot has the caffeine equivalent of two cups of coffee.
5-Hour Energy is not required to report to the Food and Drug Administration the amount of caffeine contained in each bottle because it is sold in a two-ounce bottle, called a shot, which does not constitute a “beverage” that is governed under FDA agency regulations.
What the issue comes down to is taking personal responsibility and being smart in dealing with a hectic and stressful lifestyle.
Finals are looming closer than ever and the zombie-like stares are even more widespread among the student body.
The mountains of projects, papers and test reviews are becoming steeper and steeper with every hour.
It’s no wonder students increasingly turn to coffee, energy drinks and even prescription drug abuse like Adderall to get through the most torturous days of the semester.
There have always been warnings against these types of abuse among universities, however, amidst the teeming masses the consequences of this abuse seems to go overlooked — that is, until a death occurs.
It is still yet to be determined exactly how strong energy drinks have in connection to past deaths and other health complications.
While the FDA does hold medical records involving the 13 deaths linked to 5-Hour Energy, the agency has not discovered if these deaths were the result of preexisting heart conditions (which is a very real possibility) coupled with the abuse of the drinks or if they are isolated incidents.
Until concrete evidence against these companies surface, we can only look to ourselves to use these drinks wisely.
This is especially important to consider now that finals are on the horizon.
Resorting to ridiculous amounts of caffeine — or other more dangerous substances — is not a healthy way to handle the workload.
Yes, there is so much work to do and so little time to do it in while teachers’ expectations continue to rise.
However, the fact that you completed that 12-page paper in 9 hours the night before it was due won’t be comforting when you find yourself in the hospital.
Don’t blame the companies just yet for exposing you to such potentially dangerous miracle-workers.
These deaths and investigations may be a foreshadowing of their demise (or at least caffeine regulation) but that’s no excuse to go crazy with caffeine.
In fact, there’s no excuse at all.