Early today, I heard that some Food Association in Sweden is looking into a ban of Monster, Red Bull and other energy drinks; reason: since 2004, 4 people died from consumption of Monster/booze mix. Now, there is so terribly much wrong with that, I don’t even know where to start.
First, I offer for your consideration: Maybe, the energy drink had nothing to do with their deaths and actually prolonged their lives because it thinned the incredible amounts of booze these people drank.
Really, if people don’t know when to stop, maybe it’s simply evolution at work; thinning the herd by natural selection. I’m not militant about anti-alcoholism. Actually, in my youth, I drank a damn lot. However, I only once in my entire life drank to the point of blacking out as a teenager. And as snobbish and holier-than-thou as it may sound, I did it in a responsible way – at home, with no school the next day, to see what it is like. I found out I didn’t like it and the aftermath wasn’t worth the experience at all. I never once missed school or work because of drinking the day before. I never did “stuff I couldn’t remember” or “stuff I did because I was drunk and then regretted it”. The worst thing I ever did because I was drunk was planning a vacation with some guys I couldn’t stand sober. Needless to say, we never went on that trip, so no harm done.
At age 21 – ironically – I decided I don’t want to drink anymore at all. Not because I thought I was addicted or because I did something awful or anything like that. It was simple logic. I had calculated how many DVDs I can buy with the money I used for drinks in clubs. Overpriced drinks in clubs I only went to to drink and rant about the music, people and prices of the drinks. In other words, it was way more efficient to buy DVDs I liked sober, watch them at home, with people and music I liked sober and buy snacks and drinks at regular prices. That realization was 11 years ago. In the meantime, I did have a beer or something here and there, but on average, I’m perfectly sober on 360 out of 365 days a year. And have shitloads of DVDs.
I certainly don’t expect everyone to follow my example. I also don’t mind if others drink, go to clubs and whatnot. But I also can’t help to think it’s their fault if they don’t know when to stop and drink to the point of blacking out or even dying.
Caffeine and especially energy drinks, on the other hand, are my addiction. My voluntary addiction and my lifeline. I really made a concious choice to get myself hooked on Red Bull when I was 15. I didn’t like the taste at first, at least not in large quantities, so I forced several cans down my throat. Because I had also figured out that caffeine had the opposite effect on me than legends claim it has on most people. My parents raised me with the same damn orange lemonade for my entire youth. The only drink with caffeine I got was Coca Cola, when staying at my aunt’s and uncle’s house. I figured out that it wasn’t some magic that made me sleep better there – it was drinking cola all day. Where my mom went “OMAIGAWD if you drink cola, you can’t sleep!”, my aunt was more liberal about that. I could never really sleep anyway – except when I drank a lot cola during the day. In my childhood, doctors had the (ridicolous) theory that I had the biological rhythm of the opposite side of the planet and this was the reason I couldn’t sleep at night – because it felt like daytime to me. Of course that’s bullshit, but it did help me to make the connection between “caffeine” and “opposite effect”.
During my teenage years, I experimented with caffeine and especially Red Bull and Flying Horse – the only available energy drinks back then – instead of drugs, like the average rebel teenager does. I managed to regulate my sleeping pattern and attention span by that. It sure never became a healthy pattern – staying up to the point of total exhaustion with Red Bull, then kickstarting myself with Red Bull after a near-comatose sleep. But it did get me through school, it did keep me functional and it did help me to regulate and develop at least healthy amounts of sleep. Red Bull pulled off what none of the countless sleeping pills and doctors managed to do.
Of course, back then, the assumption “has opposite effect” was the only thing I had to work with. Many years and hours of research later, I know it’s no coincidence and caffeine is in many cases an effective way to deal with ADHD. The “opposite effect” is a fact for many people, it’s not me being a freak of nature. In the light of that, it seems utterly ridicolous and biased to me to blame energy drinks for the death of 4 morons who didn’t know when to stop drinking booze.