Energy Drinks in Rehab: Why Can’t I Have Them?

By Ben Spielberg

Taurine. Guarana. Ginseng. Ginkgo Biloba. Are these real words or am I just talking crazy talk? On the contrary, not only are these real words, but they are also ingredients commonly found in most energy drinks. You can find energy drinks anywhere—gas stations, supermarkets, combined with alcohol in liquor stores and at any young people’s convention of Alcoholics Anonymous. In some places, however, they are not as socially acceptable.

The detox I was in before I came to Beit T’Shuvah was a lock down facility—there was no entering or exiting without staff, and there was absolutely no connection to the outside world. Inside of the facility, however, was a small store stocked with candy, cigarettes, juices, and energy drinks. I was only there for about a week, and the only thing I was able to keep in my stomach was chocolate, so I had absolutely no desire for Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, or whatever else they offered there. As soon as I arrived at Beit T’Shuvah, I noticed that there were papers stating that there was no consumption of energy drinks on the premises! Well, that’s weird.

Or is it? In a way, energy drinks can embody a lot of “old behavior.” For instance, I want a lot of energy and I want it now! There are dozens of beverages on shelves now that are malt liquor combined with energy drinks. For some, this could most definitely be a trigger. For others, chugging Red Bulls can lead to excessive behavior—I have seen many people start with one can a day, and after a few weeks drink one every other hour! Addictive behaviors like these are generally frowned upon in rehab. I like to think about it like this: I may not agree with no pep-me-up drinks all the time, but if I’m making a big fuss about it, then how willing am I to really get sober in the first place? Sometimes we have to deal with things we don’t like, and rehab is a great place to resonate and process this thought. What do you think about energy drinks?

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