I remember the sip of my first energy drink – the cool liquid sugar slowly seeping down an 18-year old Sam’s thirsty throat bringing his entire body back to life. The sudden rush of energy through chemicals transforming a sleepy Sam to a wide-eyed super Sam.
I was attending a 24-hour gaming charity event a couple of years ago, and with it being a 24-hour event the idea was that we tried to stay awake. There had been a pizza delivery. Roughly 20 pizzas came in through the other room to the delight of the many hungry gamers sitting around me – myself included. Mmm pizza.
I rushed to the scent of the deliciously hot pizzas in the other room – joining the stampede of others with the same goal as mine: to soak my stomach in the staple food. But it wasn’t just that.
No person can go without liquids. There was plenty on offer – from alcohol and water to … energy drinks? Oh, I haven’t had one of those before. It’s getting late. I’m feeling pretty tired. I could really do with a perk-me-up. I had been awake around 16 hours by this point – sleep was requesting its time.
I’m chatting to some fellow gamers and begin sipping my drink. A rush plowed through my gullet and into my chest and my head like a frozen fire burning my senses. My eyes widened. My hands shaking with sugar. I felt like I’d just had the best nights sleep ever and was ready to go again. From the top!
A couple of hours into a glucose-fuelled gaming session and I’m feeling more tired than before. The rush was gone. My energy levels reached zero. Zip. Nada. My solution? Get another one. I completely ignored the number on the corner of this new can. It said something like 20p, maybe. I didn’t think much about it at the time. I just went and grabbed another one. And then it happened. Again.
The same rush as before. Perhaps not as healthy as the one before. After all, the lower the price the worse the contents. Probably. Now I may be British, but I don’t exactly have a thing for tea. Sacrilege, I know. I don’t really like coffee much either. You might say I’d never had much in the way of caffeine before. But this feeling just kept me going.
It’s not that I felt the urge to grab another. It’s not that I needed one. I just saw it as a way to keep myself going. Awake. Determined. But since then I continued to buy energy drinks. I don’t rely on them. I just like them. Why should I stop buying them? I realised they were bad for me, but you only live once! The energy drink is my tea and my coffee. I had one yesterday, in fact.
Through all of that though I’ve always been aware of my limits. I no longer exceed one per day. Some days I just simply don’t. I have never felt any urge to go out to purposely buy any. But something did happen. Last year I became sluggish. Tired. Taking naps in the middle of the day.
I took a blood-sugar test one morning at the request of my parents. I had an energy drink the evening before. Honestly I felt nervous because I knew I wasn’t keeping track of the amount of sugar and chemicals entering my internal organs. The result?
My blood sugar was below average. Hold on, can I see that again? Below average? How? Don’t get me wrong – I felt relieved. I almost felt like I’d sipped on an ice-cold energy drink with that sigh of relief. In fact I’m pretty sure that’s what I did. But did it make me feel anything?
Honestly? Not really. It didn’t change my mind on the cool liquid-goodness that is an energy drink but I do feel more aware of my intake. Wouldn’t it be smart to cut it out? Nah. I opted rather to eat less junk food. That’s right. I would choose an energy drink over a chocolate bar any day.
Would I ever change my habit? No – unless I had to cut it out entirely. I seem to be going just fine at the moment. It’s a fickle situation. I could live just fine without them, but why? Why should I give up on that ice-cold feeling?
That answer may arrive in the future. Who knows – I may eventually just let go of them. It’s possible. But until then I will continue to sit back, relax, and ‘crack open a cold one’.
If you are struggling to overcome an addiction it is always important to seek help. You shouldn’t have to go through it alone. Help is out there and it will never belittle you.