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Caffeine Pills & Energy Drinks

Cup of coffee

Why Do Teens Need Caffeine?

On average, studies say teens need between 8.5 and 9 hours of sleep each night. The problem is that today’s teens face more demanding schedules than ever, and often sleep is the first thing that is sacrificed when there just isn’t enough time in the day.

Between school, homework, college applications, extracurricular activities, afterschool jobs, and social activities, teens have extremely full schedules. Juggling all these various obligations can be incredibly taxing and fatiguing. For this reason, many teens turn to energy drinks or caffeine pills for a boost, or at times, just to stay awake. While these substances can be effective at helping people to stay awake if taken in moderation, they can become very dangerous when abused.

Abuse of caffeine pills and energy drinks is made easier by the fact that their use is generally accepted as the norm in society. Caffeine is one of the most widely used mind-altering drugs, but that does not mean it is completely safe.

Energy Drinks

Caffeinated drinksThere is a wide array of energy drinks on the market. Many purport to be low calorie or healthy, but the fact is that pretty much all of them use similar ingredients and produce similar effects. Popular energy drink brands include Monster, Rockstar, Nos, and Amp. The most popular of these energy drinks, however, is Red Bull.

Red Bull has become synonymous with the term “energy drink,” and it is practically ubiquitous. While a single can of Red Bull is unlikely to do any significant damage, it’s the ongoing use – or mixing energy drinks with other substances – that can be dangerous.

A can of Red Bull has about 49 grams of sugar per 11 fluid ounces. This is quite a bit of sugar. A can of Red Bull also has about 106 milligrams of caffeine per 11 fluid ounces, according to the Caffeine Informer. A can also contains taurine, guarana, and ginseng, which are other stimulants on top of the caffeine.

It is estimated that a grown adult can handle about 300-400 milligrams of caffeine a day without any negative side effects. Since teens are not full-grown adults, the amount they can handle is even less. More than three cans of any energy drink can be quite dangerous to a teenager’s health, as is mixing energy drinks with alcohol or other drugs.

Side effects from drinking large amounts of energy drinks include:
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Heart palpitations
  • Numbing of the skin
These side effects can result from drinking 3-4 cans of an energy drink per day. Drinking more may greatly increase these symptoms, create heart conditions, and lead to caffeine addiction.

Energy drinks are often marketed directly to teens. Their names and branding suggest an extreme attitude, meant to make the drinks look young and cool. Beyond that, they are specifically flavored and sweetened to attract teenagers. Because of the marketing and side effects of energy drinks, many schools have opted to ban them on campus.

Caffeine Pills

Caffeine pills contain – of course – caffeine, mixed with inactive ingredients. Perhaps the most used brand of caffeine pills is NoDoz, which is especially popular with truckers who need to make long overnight hauls without falling asleep at the wheel. Teens, however, are using caffeine pills for many of the same reasons that they consume energy drinks – to juggle their complicated schedules.

In addition, abuse of caffeine pills has been noted to induce a slight high or euphoria. Like energy drinks, caffeine pills, when taken as directed, can offer a boost of energy with few negative side effects. The problem once again comes down to abuse. The average NoDoz caplet contains 200 milligrams of caffeine. This means it only takes two caplets to reach unhealthy use levels.

Abuse of caffeine pills can also lead to negative side effects. According to, some of these include:

  • Extreme nausea
  • Panic attacks
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Heart palpitations

Beyond these side effects, it is much easier to consume a lot of caffeine at once when it comes in pill form. This could lead to heart attack or death. It also increases the risk for caffeine addiction.

Caffeine Addiction

Caffeinated sodaCaffeine addiction is a very real problem. Abuse of caffeine pills like NoDoz or energy drinks like Red Bull can lead to caffeine addiction. A caffeine overdose is no joke. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, is the guide to all medically recognized mental health disorders and used by psychiatrists across the country. Recently, both caffeine intoxication and caffeine withdrawal have been added to the list of known disorders. This is a problem psychiatrists are taking seriously and one parents and teens should be taking seriously as well. An overdose on caffeine can potentially lead to heart attack and possibly death.

Teens should be monitoring their caffeine intake, ensuring not to drink more than 2-3 energy drinks a day and not to take more than one caffeine pill per day. Teens should also make sure to never mix energy drinks and caffeine mix. Even if teens are consuming a reasonable amount of caffeine, the need to consume it on a daily basis should be assessed.

If someone takes too much caffeine, or stops taking caffeine after a long period of regular use, withdrawal may occur. Caffeine withdrawal can cause:
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Insomnia

These symptoms will pass over time, but only without the use of caffeine. This cessation of use, however, may mean decreased performance – temporarily – for many teens at work, school, or in social situations.

Treatment That Works

Teens who suspect they are addicted to caffeine, and parents who suspect their teens are addicted to caffeine pills or energy drinks, should get help. Teens are at high risk for caffeine addiction due to energy drink marketing and their hectic schedules. It’s important to get help before the repercussions of prolonged abuse take hold.

Next Generation Village can be the help you need. Whether your teen has just started abusing energy drinks and caffeine pills or been abusing them for years, Next Generation Village offers comprehensive treatment programs for teens. With a range of therapies to address the reasons that led to substance abuse, teens can achieve a healthier life balance with proper care. Call the professionals there today to learn more.

Medical Disclaimer: Next Generation Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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