The energy in your cup: Energy drinks, coffee and their effects on one busy Georgia State student

Brooke Martin, Georgia State biology major, says,” Energy drinks are vital to my life.” Photo by: Charles Bailey
Brooke Martin, Georgia State biology major, says,” Energy drinks are vital to my life.” Photo by: Charles Bailey
Brooke Martin, Georgia State biology major, says,” Energy drinks are vital to my life.”
Photo by: Charles Bailey

Brooke Martin, Georgia State biology major, said “energy drinks are vital to her existence.”

This type of dependence is typical for energy drinkers, because caffeine is a diuretic, or an agent that enables water loss, and if a person develops a tolerance, physical dependence results, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Martin started drinking Full Throttle energy drinks and coffee in high school. During an interview with The Signal, her leg shook and she smoked a cigarette to “even out her energy drink high.”

“I literally can’t process without caffeine, and this [Full Throttle] gives me like so much caffeine,” she said.

Martin recalled the feeling she got from running cross country in high school, invigorated from drinking three Monster energy drinks. She said her boost last for an extra hour, and after the crash, she slept fourteen hours that day.

“I was shaking, I had so much caffeine, I was in like first place for most of the race, but then I got dehydrated,” she said.

Caffeine use disorder is common for 90 percent of Americans who drink caffeinated drinks regularly, and the effects include headaches, jittery hands and anxiety, according to the San Francisco Gate.

Martin admits she is a caffeine addict. She also admitted she’s suffered from headaches and dehydration from her dependence on caffeine. She believed abusing it is easy.

“I get headaches sometimes if I don’t have caffeine. I keep supplying my addiction,” she said.

Martin said her caffeinated high lasts for at least 12 hours, but she keeps herself hydrated, and goes right back to caffeine after crashing. She said she spends at least $20 a week on coffee and energy drinks, calling it “an embarrassing amount.”

“If I have one [energy drink] in the morning, I’ll crash around lunchtime, and if I have one around lunch, then I’ll crash around the time I’m supposed to go to bed,” she said.

Consumption of an unspecified energy drink demonstrated a significant increase of heart muscle tissue contraction, which is believed to be connected to the energy drink’s ingredients, caffeine and taurine, according to a 2013 study of energy drinks on the effects of the heart.

Is the energy boost really worth it?

According to a 2014 study on caffeine induced anxiety, 82-92 percent of adults in North America reported drinking caffeinated beverages due to their stimulating effects.

Martin’s schedule includes microbiology, abnormal psychology and chemistry, she works as a waitress, and she studies a minimum of four hours a night. She gets an average of three hours of sleep a night.

“I get a full night’s sleep, like maybe 5 or 6 times a month,” she said.

Drinking one cup of coffee (8 fluid ounces) has more caffeine (94.8 mg) than Martin’s energy drink of choice, 240 grams of Full Throttle, which has 72 mg of caffeine. Drinking more than 500 to 600 mg daily, or more than 4 cups daily is considered heavy caffeine use, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Martin said she drinks at least two cups of coffee daily, but up to four if she needs to study late at night.

“I drink two cups of coffee in the morning, one in the afternoon, and if I need to study late, I’ll drink another,” she said.

Georgia State Counseling and Testing Center (CTC) psychologist Dr. Jeana Griffith advised against consuming energy drinks due to the high sugar content and the temporary energy boost.

Martin said her caffeine high crashes while she is heading home, but she never misses her bus stop.

“I drink two cups of coffee at home, I go to school and have an energy drink between classes,” she said. “I’m good till I’m on the bus, and I crash. But I have this really loud alarm that lets me know I’m at my stop.”

Consumption of energy drinks is most common among medical majors, according to a 2013 study published by the International Journal of Medical Students. The study found many subjects mentioned heart palpitations, insomnia, headaches, tremors and lack of sleep as reasons to drink energy drinks.

Martin knows energy drinks are harmful to her health, but she plans to keep drinking caffeinated drinks until she completes her academic goals.

“Once I take some anatomy courses, I’ll probably cut that out,” she said. “I think it’s okay right now since I’m young, but I don’t want to be drinking them when I’m older.”

She groans, because she’s currently a B student, and she’s planning another all-nighter. She draws motivation to do well in school from her parents.

“I pressure myself more than my parents do, because I see them struggling with money, and I am so motivated to make like, hella money and help them,” she said.