Working in drug and alcohol treatment services I have come across all types of addictions to substance misuse and alcohol. It can move over to sugar however when an individual manages to stop the use of their drug of choice or alcohol. Either sweet food can take precedent or the form of drinks like cola or coffee filled with sugar but at times energy drinks are the one. And in this day and age energy drinks are so out there and highly available and become very addictive.
I recently treated a woman at my place of work in Oxford; she had been reducing off methadone. She came to me for several sessions and the usual chat about methadone reduction was standard and was doing quite well, slowly coming down 0.4 mg per two weeks; a subtle yet effective amount with low impact. The thing that got me one particular day was the can of energy drink that was in her hand. I was eyeing it up curiously.
She said she bought it from the cash and carry and it was very cheap. I asked her how much? Thirty five pence each. I was amazed. I then asked her how many she would drink per day? She said, “twelve per day”!!!! I nearly fell over. I picked up the can and looked at the nutritional information. It had so many grams of sugar per can. The equivalent of twelve teaspoons per can; which astonished me, and a similar amount to a can of Coke. Or other similar sweetened drinks.
I was shocked! What was she doing to her body? Where was all that sugar going? I asked her was she aware of how much sugar she was putting into her system via the drinks alone? She wasn’t clear on this at all. I said, “twelve teaspoons of sugar are in each can, meaning twelve times twelve is one hundred and forty four.” So she was putting one hundred and forty four teaspoons sugar into her system, per day. The recommended amount per day is six teaspoons. She then seemed to get the picture. I then multiplied that by seven; per week she was having one thousand and eight teaspoons equivalent. So in one month she had roughly four thousand teaspoons of sugar. This would seriously be damaging her health. Not to mention the rest of the food she may be having with sugar in. I immediately said to her she must reduce her intake immediately if possible. So she said she would try to halve it. And low and behold a couple weeks later she had halved her consumption. So when she came back to me she was on two thousand teaspoons of sugar per month. What an improvement! I am sure the addiction of sugar resonates after a substance addiction. Energy drinks can be the next consumer product to cause problems with a dependency swopping to sugar.
If we carry on drinking such drinks without any idea of what they are doing to our system the body will become inherently used to it and crave more. We can develop withdrawal symptoms, as some of you may have read my sugar detox blog some time ago it is hard to stop taking in such powerful drinks without feeling it. The energy drinks market is huge and they are extremely popular particularly with the young. If we have the sugar tax it may help us to make choices about what we chose to drink a little more but the sheer amount of sugar that twelve cans per day is doing is astounding.