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Hard to kick a habit, when the habit is a kick

Forget coffee. Forget tea. Forget espresso-latte-mocha-whatever. When I start my morning, I need something with a little more kick. All hail the almighty energy drink.

The American Energy Drink Revolution began in 1997 with the introduction of Red Bull, an overpriced, saccharine beverage that claimed to "give you wings." Frankly, I'm surprised some knucklehead hasn't yet tried to sue Red Bull, claiming false advertising when he broke eight bones jumping from his roof.

Over the years, a myriad of other energy drinks have sprung up, with big-name corporations such as Starbucks and PepsiCo getting in on the mania. If you've never sampled the goods, take it from me, these babies work. Boy, do they work. Think "Animal" from "The Muppet Show" meets Michael Flatley. Remember when Tom Cruise was jumping around Oprah's couch like a fool? I'll let you in on a little secret: he wasn't excited. He was drugged! It wasn't any illicit substance; he just had one too many Red Bulls that day.

If energy drinks are indeed a drug, then my drug of choice is "Rockstar." It sounds cool, is packaged in a sleek black can and has a slogan any college kid can embrace: "Party Like A Rockstar."

From my very first sip, I was hooked. It tasted better than any of the other energy drinks I'd tried. It wasn't terribly sweet and left just the right aftertaste.

And heck, I thought I looked pretty darn cool walking around with that sleek can that proclaimed to the world that I was, in fact, a rock star.

I began consuming Rockstar every morning. Trouble was, with all that caffeine and sugar getting me so "high" in the morning, I found myself in desperate need of a long nap by 3 p.m. The solution was, of course, more Rockstar. But then came the side effects. Like any quality drug, Rockstar has side effects. At first I noticed I couldn't keep my hands still. Then -- surprise, surprise -- I couldn't sleep at night. Then there was the daily heartburn. And last, but certainly not least, came the anxiety. But like any good addict, I stuck with my drug.

The anxiety slowly went away, as did the sleepless nights. The heartburn, why that's nothing a daily dose of Pepcid can't fix. The shakes, however, did not go away. After consuming my second Rockstar of the day I'm ready to run a marathon. I cannot sit still and my hands and legs shake, rattle and roll. Is this what they meant by "Party Like A Rockstar"?

I became curious about my newfound stimulant, so I did a little research on energy drinks. My first realization was that I had no idea what I was drinking. Taurine? Inositol? L-Carnitine? I've never even heard of this stuff!

Further investigation revealed that some studies have shown high consumption of energy drinks to be related to memory loss. Maybe Alberto Gonzales is actually a closet energy junkie.

I made one final startling discovery before swearing off Rockstar forever. I learned that some studies suggest that daily consumption of energy drinks can lead to a decreased libido. Decreased libido? Doesn't sound very "rock star" to me! Needless to say, my 23-year-old brain did not want to hear anything about a decreased libido. So I swore off all energy drinks forever.

Three days later and I was off the wagon and all revved up. Like any good addict, it'll take me a good 20 to 30 attempts before I actually quit. Until then, party on.

Kyle O'Connor, of Hamburg, is a student at Fredonia State College. He is trying to wean himself off of energy drinks.

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