Drug Awareness


Caffeine is the most popular and widely used drug in the world. It is a substance found in the leaves, seeds or fruit of a number of plant species, such as coffee and tea plants. Caffeine is a stimulant which acts on the central nervous system to speed up the messages to and from the brain.  It is made up of the elements carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen.
Caffeine consumption is a part of everyday life is Australia. People have tea or coffee for breakfast, with meals or as a break for morning or afternoon tea.  Children and adults consume caffeine through eating chocolate and drinking cola and energy drinks.

Effects of caffeine

In small doses (such as a cup of coffee or a caffeinated energy drink) caffeine:

  • Increase general metabolism and body temperature
  • Increases urination
  • Increases alertness
  • Stimulates the secretion of gastric acid.

Caffeine and sleep

When caffeine is taken before going to bed, it usually:

  • Delays and shortens sleep
  • Reduces the deep sleep cycle
  • Increase the amount of dream sleep early in the night, but reduces it overall.

What are energy drinks?

Energy drinks are drinks designed to increase stamina and improve physical performance. Some energy drinks are designed especially for elite athletes, but most are produced and marketed for the general community.

What are their main ingredients?

The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone. Some new drinks on the market also contain opium poppy seed extract or ephedrine.

  • Taurine
    Taurine is an amino acid that occurs naturally in the body. Amino acids help to build protein. They are also believed to detoxify and cleanse the body of harmful substances. In times of stress and high physical activity, the body can lose small amounts of taurine. Some people use energy drinks to try to replace or build up their body’s level of taurine.
  • Glucuronolactone
    Glucuronolactone also occurs naturally in the     body. It is a natural metabolite and carbohydrate formed when glucose breaks down, and is believed to be helpful in ridding the body of harmful substances and providing an instant energy boost
  • Caffeine
    Caffeine is a stimulant which acts on the central nervous system to speed up messages to and from the brain.

Beverage (250ml)     Caffeine content

Mother (500ml)        160mg
Red Bull                      80mg
Monster (500ml)      160mg
Rockstar                     80mg
‘V’                                 78mg
Coca-Cola                   48.75mg
Diet Coke                    48mg
Diet Coke                    2mg
Pepsi                            40mg
Diet Pepsi                   44mg
Pepsi Max                   44mg

What are the health effects of energy drinks?

Not enough is currently known about energy drinks and their effect on health and well-being. The producers of energy drinks make many claims about the health effects of their products. They say that their products can increase physical endurance, improve reaction time, boost mental alertness and concentration, increase overall well-being, stimulate metabolism, improve stamina and help eliminate waste from the body. The drinks are marketed as healthy, fun and youthful, and many children, young people and adults are taken in by the excitement created around them, believing these claims to be true. However, the evidence shows that it may be wise to be cautious in our consumption of energy drinks.

Caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone occur naturally in the body, but the fact that they are present in much higher does in energy drinks may be cause for concern. Scientists say that caffeine can have an effect on the growing brain and that it may cause a decline in the body’s immune system.

The Australian Consumers’ Association advises that while energy drinks may be scientifically safe, young people especially need to be aware of their contents. Research shows that children and young people who consume energy drinks may suffer sleep problems, bed-wetting and anxiety. Children who consume two or more cans of energy drinks a day may become irritable and anxious.

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