Caffeine and energy drinks, the ninja drugs

Hi, my name is Derek. (Hi Derek!) And I’m a caffeine addict. In fact, I drank coffee right before sitting down to write this article. Is this a problem? The addict in me says, “No! Absolutely not! I can stop whenever I want to.”

The truth, however, couldn’t be farther from this conjured belief of hope and self-empowerment. And I am merely a number. Yes, just one amongst the ranks of the Gen Y addicts that swarm Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and their coffee makers the second they begin their days.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a morning person. But, probably not, considering I drink coffee and soda at night as well.

To say Gen Y is addicted to caffeine is an outrageous understatement. That’s like saying Wile E. Coyote kind of wants to catch Roadrunner if it’s manageable and doesn’t cut into his lunch date with Yosemite Sam.


Millennials are full-out lunatics for caffeine. Not only do we consume tons of coffee and soda, but have come into the world of energy drinks, energy shots, and, so help me God, energy pills. Not to mention, we’ve canoodled a drinking style of mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Red Bull and Vodka and Jaeger-bombs are just the beginning: an upper and a downer, the perfect combo for the human heart.

There are even drinks like Four Loko, pre-mixed energy drinks with malt liquor that contain 12% alcohol. I won’t be touching those drinks with a 10-foot pole, but that’s just me. I know plenty who’ve drank Four Loko and will continue to drink them. The hype is, the buzz that follows the caffeine intake is unreal.

But the main question we have to ask is, why? Why does Gen Y have such a crippling addiction to the world of energy, unlike any other generation? Although, I must say, I feel Gen Y does its best to utilize their addiction.

There seems to be this floating cloud of doom that follows most Millennials regarding time management, stressing us out and constantly reminding us that there just isn’t enough time in the day. The shortness of a day, plus the overload of tasks Gen Y undertakes, forces the over-usage of caffeine. And to be completely honest, as useful as it is pulling all-nighters with bloodshot eyes and shaky hands that scribble involuntarily across all of our notes, it’s absolutely awful for our bodies.

To give further proof, I did an immersive journalism project regarding the sped-up effects of energy drinks and caffeine on the body. I drank a Red Bull every four hours for two days straight. I originally planned for three, but it got to be too much and I had to stop for safety’s sake. Not only did I feel physically sick, but I had lost complete control of my emotions and my sanity. The thought of food made me sick, the tiniest problems pissed me off, and I lost complete comprehension of time. It was the worst thing I have ever brought upon myself. Ironically, however, I still drink coffee and soda like it’s my job, so kudos to learning that lesson.

Although not great for our bodies, caffeine does seem like the quick fix to our time issue, if regulated in dosage. Of course we could try to manage our scheduling better, but seriously, who has time for that? Leave it to Gen Y to try to manipulate time to their needs. Either way, it tends to work. Previous generations seem to wane off the caffeine use, but I can’t ever see Gen Y reducing their coffee drinking.

We’re stubborn. We’re determined. Our workload is only going to grow over time, and, along with it, our stress levels. Some people cope by binge drinking, others light up a cigarette or a blunt, and some even resort to extremes. Compared to other drugs, caffeine doesn’t even make the charts. But, like the ninja it is, it’ll creep up on us and pull off the most brutal fatality of all. We’ll all just go insane. Stress and caffeine can be a horrible mix.

We need to learn control. When I say, “I can stop whenever I want to,” I should mean it. If I went cold turkey, I would have the worst non-alcoholic hangover of all time, and most likely be irritable and not fun to be around. But I suppose the first step is realizing I have a problem. And that’s the most important thing to realize.

But, if I need to pull an all-nighter, I know there’s a 24-hour Dunkin’ Donuts close by.

Photos by Flying House Studios (top) and M-A-V (middle) and Annie Lindgren (bottom)

Derek Anderson A New Englander born and raised, I'm a die-hard news junkie with his heart set on journalism as well as sizable obsession with music (of most kinds), Star Wars, coffee, the Bruins & Patriots, and animals (of all kinds). I tend to stay up way too late, enjoy getting sucked into a great book, and of course, I love to writewritewrite. Greek mythology, Batman, Tina Fey, and golden retrievers (or really any fluffy animal) are some of the numerous keys to my heart. Get yo tweet on with me: @DerekJAnderson

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6 Responses to “Caffeine and energy drinks, the ninja drugs”

  1. McKenzie Lawton

    Great post Derek! I remember when you did your Red Bull experiment, and I definitely didn’t envy you. I don’t drink coffee or energy drinks, but I drink a lot of soda. I’m not sure how I’d react if I stopped drinking it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be pleasant.

    Four Loko is evil.

  2. Lschuma!

    Between the ages of 5-13, I probably drank two cans of soda every day. When I went to horse camp I had to quit cold-turkey, and I realized how much better I felt just drinking plain water instead.

    It’s great because on the rare occasions when I need to pull an all-nighter, about half of a small bottle of Starbucks frappuccino will keep me wired for as long as I need. I know a ton of people for whom coffee barely has an effect anymore, but they still shill out 3-10 bucks a day paying for cup after cup of it…nein danke!

  3. Alex Pearlman

    MMM I love coffee! At this point, I generally drink two cups of coffee in the morning and some other sort of caffeine in the afternoon… not energy drinks, though… I think they taste disgusting, I don’t understand how people can drink them. Or how vodka/red bulls even became a thing.

    And yes, Four Loko is evil.

  4. marybeth lawton

    Hi Derek ! McKenzie’s Mom here. Great article but I’m going to make an attempt to talk you down off that ledge here for a sec. OK, deep breath…….it ain’t the coffee that’s gonna kill ya, it’s the sugar. So, if you’re putting a ton of sucrose in that DD cup, put the packet off to one side and try it without anything other than a little cream. Coffee is good for you….clears away cholesterol, keeps the heart stimulated and makes our brain focus. It’s the sugar that causing the brain fog, buddy….it’s in the RedBull, it’s in the Coke, high fructose corn syrup is in just about everything that makes your taste buds cry “YES”. God bless my Dad in the 70′s when he taught me to drink my coffee like a “man”… and black…..and no snickering here. Try it….especially if you have a little Kona or Jamaican Blue to grind and make a pot. So keep that caffeine high….it’s what getting you thru college. Sure beats some of the s*** we did in the 60′s. Love and peace, out. Mrs. L.


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