Perceptive Dependence: How Bad is Caffeine?

Author: Emily Antoney Jeromeous

Editors: Shamsia Ahmed and Tharindi Jayatilake

Artist: Aurora Chen

When one considers the stigmatic subject of addiction, our mind tends to revert to thoughts of drugs, alcoholism, and related issues. However, a primary issue that often goes undiscussed revolves around the topic of caffeine addiction. To some degree, a caffeine reliance is acceptable with consideration to different personal circumstances, but this makes it more difficult to answer the pressing question: At what point does caffeine become a problem?

Let’s analyze the possible reasons for why caffeine addictions are so appealing. There are varying factors that contribute to what causes people to identify as those who are “unable to function without coffee.”

Caffeine can have harmful effects on a person’s mental and physical health. If one can identify the discernable negative differences in themselves after excessive caffeine consumption but continue to ingest the substance, there is inevitably an issue pertaining to dependence at hand.

Withdrawal symptoms can include, but are not limited to: headaches, feelings of tiredness, and troubled sleep such as insomnia. Caffeine uses dopamine in the brain as a stimulant to boost alertness and have sustained control over one’s movements and activity. While increasing dopamine, the drug simultaneously blocks adenosine, which is a chemical in the brain which controls sleep. In this way, the drug works to inhibit feelings of drowsiness.

A person can develop a tolerance to caffeine, much like how alcohol or alternative drug users develop a tolerance to certain substances. As a result, one would need to increase their caffeine intake to feel the same perceived effects that it had on their state as they did before their tolerance increased. Contrary to popular belief, too much caffeine can also have adverse effects on one’s body, thereby making its consumption redundant. Although caffeine is typically associated with coffees, teas, and soft drinks, it can also be found in caffeinated foods, such as chocolate or select baked goods. Caffeine addictions mainly prevail due to the high accessibility of the drug itself.

Statistics from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health show that over 80% of adults in North America consume caffeine on a regular basis, further proving that caffeine dependence is a common issue that should be addressed.

Though caffeine is generally considered safe, it is better to err on the side of caution and take preventive measures to ensure that a caffeine reliance is not being developed. Habitual caffeine intake can become common, so it is important to be mindful of the amount that one is consuming every day. Limiting is a

great way to be more proactive about addictions.

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“Caffeine Addiction and Abuse.” Addiction Center, 17 Sept. 2020,

www.addictioncenter.com/stimulants/caffeine/.

“Caffeine.” CAMH, www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-illness-and-addiction-

index/caffeine. Caffeine: America's Most Popular Drug,

www.kuakini.org/wps/portal/public/Health-Wellness/

Health-Info-Tips/Miscellaneous/Caffeine--America-s-Most-Popular-Drug.

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Caffeine - UnityPoint Health, www.unitypoint.org/livewell/article.aspx?id=e3fb9e25-fc

1e-4390-a6a7-6114dd83ea55.

“Sources of Caffeine.” Coffee and Health, 4 Oct. 2019, www.coffeeandhealth.org/topic-

overview/sources-of-caffeine/.

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