Mixing Cold Medications with Energy Drinks: A Dangerous Trend

Redbull can

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC Special Projects Coordinator at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Woman Celebrating Sport SuccessWith overloaded schedules and increasing time demands, many individuals often look to energy drinks as a way of boosting productivity and alertness during a busy day.

Many consumers might assume that energy drinks are a safe product to use, even on a regular basis, as it is something that can easily be purchased at a grocery store or gas station.

However, energy drinks contain several ingredients that can be potentially dangerous to the consumer, particularly if combined with other substances, such as medications or alcohol.

Potentially Adverse Side Effects From Energy Drink Consumption

The caffeine content in energy drinks often varies among the brands but can have up to double the amount of caffeine that a regular cup of coffee. When purchasing a energy drink, people are more likely to consume the entire can or bottle in one sitting.

While every individual reacts differently to caffeine, energy drinks have the potential to cause caffeine toxicity, which can lead to cardiovascular/gastrointestinal complications, as well as seizures, psychosis, increased anxiety, sleep disorders and more.

In addition to caffeine, energy drinks typically contain other herbal supplements, which have not been as closely researched or regulated as other drugs, substances, and supplements.

Many of these additional ingredients have not been examined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for safety, purity, or interaction with other substances, and this can be problematic for individuals who regularly consume these as well.

Dangers of Mixing Cold Medications With Energy Drinks

guy and girl leaning on wallAmong youth, adolescents, and young adults, consumption of energy drinks has become somewhat of a fad, and it is estimated that about 30 percent of teens and young adults consuming energy drinks.

Adolescents consuming these energy drinks may be more inclined to participate in risky behaviors or intentionally mix energy drinks with other substances, such as cold medications, in attempt to create a sense of euphoria or state of a high.

With easy access to cold medications that are purchased over the counter or commonly found in household medicine cabinets, this can be a potentially dangerous habit resulting in adverse side effects.

Caregivers should take extra caution with medications stored around the house and observant of excessive consumption of energy drinks in order to help protect youth exposed to these types of behaviors.

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About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.


The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on March 14, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com

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