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Caffeine and College: A Rocky Relationship

It’s my rock, my tried-and-true, the one constant in my life. With it, I come alive. It is the source of my power; I function better socially, mentally, and physically. It’ll always be there — caffeine. But it wasn’t always this way. 

By Nicole Lee

Photo By Amanda Hess

We live in a caffeine-obsessed society. A study by the National Institute of Health reported that 86% of college students had had caffeine within the past 30 days. Over 36% of that group had an energy drink as a source of caffeine consumption. While caffeine can benefit individuals’ feelings of alertness and performance, an overdose can lead to detrimental effects. Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to symptoms such as atrial fibrillation, anxiety, and chest pain. 

What is perhaps even more dangerous is that popular energy drinks often include ingredients such as sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate. Researchers have seen a correlation between intake of such additives and whole-body inflammatory reactions. In extreme cases, there can even be an alteration in gene expression.

For typical college students ranging in age from 18-22, these health problems associated with 

caffeine consumption can harm the future trajectory and quality of their livelihood. For example, 21-year-old Sarah Katz passed away after drinking the Charged Lemonade energy drink from Panera Bread. This lethal-charged Lemonade contains 237 mg of caffeine, which is alarmingly only in the medium range for typical canned energy beverages. So, while we see the detriments of caffeine, can we ever escape the cycle?

For a sleep-deprived, workaholic society, it seems unreasonable. The convenience of caffeine and the short-term gains make it, sadly, too tempting. Once you start, it’s a tunnel with no end. It’s a scary thing to think about.

For me, it’s an addiction. A cycle I cannot escape. It helps me concentrate, function, and feel alive during the day. A long night of studying? Brain fog before a big test? With one drink, I feel healed, energetic, and prepared to tackle the day. But I wish it didn’t have to be this way. I wish I had never had that first sip of coffee. I wish I had never felt that first burst from a Celsius. From Saxby’s to Dunkin, CityCo to Starbucks, I’ve tried it all. I’ve fallen victim: a prey to caffeine. 



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