16 Monster Cans
By Becky Parnell
Sixteen empty Monster cans, six Rockstars and two blue bottles of Bawls line Tuscany 113’s apartment kitchen ceiling. Two towers of red plastic cs stick to each other as they are put aside after a rigorous game of “Monster Pong”.
An adaptation to Beer Pong for those that do not drink alcohol, students play this game to get a feeling of ehoria and to relax. “It is something fun to do while we hang out” says sophomore Brigham Young University Idaho student Janet Moncada.
Janet is a twenty year old girl from Chicago. She is used to a big city splied with entertainment. Rexburg has been a hard adaptation for her. One of the things she does to help her feel more at home is to invite her friends over, turn their music and play Pong.
Britney Spear’s new song “Womanizer” is playing in the background as six people crowd around the small kitchen table to take their turn at trying to put the ball in their opponent’s c. When a ball goes in one of the opposite team’s c, they must drink it. Can on can is consumed as they sing, dance, and aim the ball.
Six empty cans and cs later, the guys go home and the girls stay behind. Bored and with some left over energy drinks, Janet and her friends decide to drink the rest. Tilting the cans vertically, they get the last drop.
3am hits and Janet’s heart is still racing.
Scared at the pounding of her own heart, Ashley, her nineteen-year-old roommate, runs Janet to the emergency room. Hours later Janet emerges with a band-aid covering the hole from the IV. Packed with antibiotics from the doctors, Janet makes her way home around 7am.
Kidney Infection. Heightened blood pressure from excessive amounts of caffeine. Janet lies in bed for days as she suffers through the body’s natural healing process.
Experts say that students, teenagers in particular, don’t realize how much caffeine they are drinking. They also don’t know the effects it can have on the body as well as the addictive nature of the stimulant.
In the year 2006, young adults spent $2.3 billion dollars on severely caffeinated drinks. Today the market exceeds $3 billion a year. The popular choices lining the shelves in stores are Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, Full Throttle and Bawls. New flavors are continually coming out to help appeal to a wider range of people. Not to mention the ‘health oriented’ sugar-free versions.
The truth about caffeine-enhanced beverages is that they are addictive and they are becoming an epidemic. Caffeinated sodas like Coke and Mt. Dew no longer give avid drinkers the pick me that they used to receive so they are turning elsewhere.
Toxicology Professor Bruce Goldberger of the University of Florida tested a number of energy drinks for their caffeine amount. He discovered that one can of sugar-free Red Bull has about twice the caffeine as one regular can of Coke.
Producers of energy drinks are hiding the addictive and harmful nature of their products. One new drink is called Cocaine and contains three times the amount of caffeine as one can of Red Bull.
“I drink one can of Monster and chase it with a Bawls” says Junior Brigham Young University Idaho student Malia Penrod. “It keeps me going for days! I get so much done!”
Positive comments like this stem from the humorous commercials put out by Red Bull. One commercial depicts a struggling, sick college student bogged down by mountains of homework while his frisky girlfriend attempts to distract him. Unable to get past all his work, he gives in to her serving him a Red Bull. Suddenly full of energy and zest he puts off his homework while his girlfriend turns off the light.
Humorous. Accessible. Relatable. And ignoring all negative side effects and addictions.
Sociologist Kathleen Miller discovered a link between energy drink consumption and sexual risk-taking. Those that drink energy drinks are more likely to abuse prescription drugs, smoke, fight, have unsafe sex and do risky things on dare. They experience a high of sorts when they are energized by caffeine and seek it again to help in activities they would not normally feel to.
“If they use it for three or five days in a row, and then suddenly quit, then they’re going to be thrown into withdrawal,” says behavioral biologist Roland Griffiths. Energy drinks are just like any other addictive substance. They allow for a quick pick me , and then drop the drinker into an energy-deficient stor. Which would of course, create the need for more.
When the energy drink needs a new kick, young adults use them as a mixer with alcoholic beverages. “While the combination may reduce perceptions of intoxication, it does not reduce alcohol-induced impairments of reaction time or judgment” quotes Science Daily from Professor Miller’s report.
American teenager and young adult dependency on energy drinks has gotten to the point where ‘epidemic’ is becoming the only word to describe it. Countries like Denmark, Norway, Turkey, France, Uruguay and Iceland have banned highly caffeinated drinks. Canada used to have them banned but removed it in 2004. Now they require warning labels containing the amount of caffeine.
America does not require the amount of caffeine to be displayed on the can. Most people do not know what they are drinking and how much. All they know is that there is caffeine.
There have been several recent deaths linked to energy drinks. There is a website, www.energyfiend.com that warns users of what they are drinking. “Death by Caffeine” allows you to pick your favorite energy drink, enter your weight and determined how much of your favorite thing it would take to kill you. Once your weight is entered and your drink is selected you press the button labeled “Kill me” to display your results.
A 125 lbs person with a taste for Cocaine would only need 30.47 cans to kill them.
Sophomore college student Kira Nance relates a story from high school about her experience with Monster. “My friend willed his entire locker top to bottom with different flavors of Monster and gave us all his combination. If we needed something to get us through the day we’d just walk by, open it and drop a dollar or two in to help him keep it stocked. I’d stop by once or twice a day.”
Janet Moncada was lucky. She got off with a liver infection and a warning to keep her blood pressure down. What if she hadn’t of stopped at the end of her ‘six pack’ of Monster? If she had tried to gulp one more down. She is lucky that she only came home with a hole from one IV.
A cole hours in the emergency room of the Rexburg Hospital and a few weeks of bed rest isn’t enough to keep Janet Moncada down. Only a few short months after her October visit to the hospital, Janet invites more friends over on December 5, to engage in some Monster Pong fun.
Energy drinks are everywhere, there have been at least 80 reports this year of deaths related to energy drink consumption. If it isn’t the caffeine that will kill you, it is the addictive behavior, impaired judgment or risky actions induced by the drinking of it.
If the Red Bull doesn’t get you, the Monster will.