Energy drinks, such as Monster and Rockstar, have been a topic of discussion in the media lately due to the health and safety concerns brought on by drinking them, including several deaths tied to energy drink use. Energy drinks are beverages that contain large doses of caffeine and other legal stimulants, which are heavily marketed as "energy boosting drinks."  While they ARE beverages, they are mostly considered dietary supplements. The FDA requires specific ingredient content labeling for food and drinks but NOT for dietary supplements.

Any number of ingredients can be found in a typical energy drink.   Here are multiple stimulant ingredients frequently found in varying and inconsistent amounts.  The most common stimulants are as follows:  Caffeine which can range from 75 to 500 mg per can, Guarana extract which comes from a plant containing highly concentrated caffeine and kola nut extract which is from another caffeine rich plant.  Sugar, Taurine (an amino acid), and B vitamins are non-stimulants also typically included in energy drinks.

Caffeine is the most widely consumed stimulant.  With regular ingestion, even in moderate amounts, it causes physical dependence.  When used appropriately, caffeine will temporarily improve alertness.  However, it also has many side effects: increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, sleep disturbances, mood swings, and anxiety being the most common.  These effects are dependent on the amount consumed and the state of health of the individual.  In large doses, caffeine can cause heart arrhythmias, hallucinating voices and images, panic and even death.

In early recovery from alcohol and drug addiction, individuals experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms.  Minor symptoms include anxiety, sleep disturbances, nausea, muscle weakness and fatigue.  More serious symptoms include increased heart rate/palpitations, increased blood pressure, vomiting/diarrhea, and seizures.  Managing these symptoms successfully is dependent on restorative health measures, such as proper nutrition, adequate water/fluid intake, and rest.

Just one energy drink contains very large and unpredictable amounts of caffeine.  Its effects can cause uncomfortable or dangerous side effects even in healthy individuals.  Undoubtedly, the effects will exacerbate and prolong withdrawal symptoms for those in early recovery.  Relapse is most likely to occur in the early days of recovery, energy drinks can add to the already high relapse potential in addition to affecting how one feels.  There is absolutely no value that can come of energy drink usage in early recovery AND they can potentially cause great harm!

If you’d like to talk about the use of energy drinks and how they impact, please call New Hope Recovery Center at 773-883-3916 or email us at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center