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“When I put a drink or a drug into my body, it’s like I have an allergic reaction to it, and I can’t get enough of it.” (Mac Miller, "HiHo Kids")
Caffeine exists in a multitude of drinks and foods, especially in teas, coffees, and chocolates. In the United States, roughly 80 percent of adults quaff coffee on a daily basis.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, “Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response.”
Caffeine addiction is a serious epidemic that individuals need to take more seriously.
Reasons Behind Caffeine Addiction
Because caffeine is so commonly ingested, many consumers often disregard the long-term problems that come along with it. Caffeine is addicting for more reasons than one:
1. Caffeine releases dopamine into the prefrontal cortex of the brain, leading to a positive reinforcement of the consumption.
In other words, the more caffeine you ingest, the happier you will feel. Funny enough, cocaine has the same effect. Although caffeine is not nearly as deadly as cocaine, it is equally as addictive. Even if you do not drink coffee on a daily basis, caffeine addiction is still possible.
2. Studies show that an individual’s caffeine dependence and tolerance is ultimately up to the gene pool.
For example, I was previously addicted to caffeine, just as my mother was when she was my age. For someone who is unaware of whether or not caffeine dependence runs in their family, one taste can change their life for the worse.
3. Addiction can also lead to many negative side effects that can poorly impact your health and aesthetic.
Common side effects of withdrawal from the substance can include dehydration, physical shaking, increased blood pressure, and sleep deprivation. Not only that, but anemia can also prevail. This is because of the high levels of existing polyphenols in coffee and tea, which reduces iron absorption up to 95 percent. Also, consistent coffee consumption can discolor your teeth, just as dark-colored beverages stain your clothes.
4. Overconsumption of caffeine is incredibly attainable, and incredibly dangerous.
According to Janet Berman’s research-based article, “The wide variety in caffeine content among products often prevents consumers from knowing exactly how much caffeine they consume, adding to the risk of overconsumption.” In other words, because there is a multitude of different products containing caffeine, it is very difficult to know how much of the substance you actually consume. If you do not receive immediate results, more often than not, you will ingest more. The same thing goes for virtually any other drug. For example, if an individual takes LSD and does not feel the effects early on, a bad trip can result from that, as they will likely take another tab. Ultimately, the effects of excessive caffeine ingestion are negative, and can poorly affect your life, and future.
Oddly enough, teens and young adults are the most prone to addiction.
Teens & Young Adults
Teens and young adults are more susceptible to caffeine reliance, due to an incline of easily accessible products.
According to Alan Budney and Jennifer Emond’s research, “In the United States, nearly 75 percent of children under the age of 18 consume caffeine on any given day.” Caffeine can come in all shapes, sizes, and forms, and nine times out of ten, energy drinks, coffees, and teas contain the substance. This wide variety of products makes it that much easier for the youth to get ahold of. This raises many concerns for parents, as caffeine is not entirely harmless.
You can become addicted to caffeine at two years old because there are no age restrictions or warnings displayed on the product.
If we have limits on other drugs, such as tobacco and even alcohol, why is there no limit on caffeine? Ian Rockett and Sandra Putnam performed a research-based study in Tennessee that “examined the association between self-reported caffeine ‘addiction’ among high school students and their sociodemographic, health and welfare characteristics.” The results showed that caffeine addicts are typically very religious, reside in a two-parent household, and come from a higher, socioeconomic background. This evidence goes to show that no matter what lifestyle you are living, caffeine addiction can still prevail.
They also discovered that young women are more likely to be tied to health and welfare problems, due to their caffeine reliance. Addiction to caffeine, in comparison to children and their futures, can lead to the same side effects that adults experience, but from a younger age, and likely, for a longer time. If addicted to caffeine from a young age, side-effects will prevail into adulthood, unless otherwise treated.
How to Quit
Restricting caffeine consumption is indeed possible, and quite simple to achieve.
Unlike other addictive substances, caffeine reliance does not typically call for an intervention. This is because "if you can go about a week or 12 days without caffeine, the brain will eventually adapt.” It is commonly known that it takes about 21 days to break a habit, good or bad. With that being said, hypothetically, it is easier and faster to quit consuming caffeine than it is to stop biting your nails.
The key to simmer down on caffeine ingestion is moderation.
Restricting consumption down to one or two cups a day is vital for your health, and aesthetic. This concept will aid in preventing the terrible physical and cognitive effects that come along with excessive ingestion. Moderation early on will also avert withdrawal symptoms, especially if the addiction was on a lower scale.
The unknown author of a research-based article from The Independent on Saturday interviewed a nutritional biochemist about the reality of caffeine causing fatigue. The biochemist stated that it is “best to avoid caffeine at the same time as having an iron-rich meal or supplement.” By separating the ingestion by two hours, this will prevent the lack of iron flow in the body, ultimately reducing the risk of anemia. This concept will, in turn, reduce the risk of addiction as well, because you are less likely to consume nearly as much caffeine as you previously did.
The second step in diluting caffeine consumption, and preventing addiction, is to educate yourself.
Marketing tactics for caffeinated beverages often target the youth and perceive the substance as harmless, and possibly beneficial. By researching the effects of caffeine on the body, there is a lower risk of consumption in general, as the effects are incredibly undesirable. By educating yourself, you are also educating those around you.
The final step to restricting caffeine ingestion is communication.
Use your voice and spread the word about the detrimental, life-altering consequences of addiction. Communication, and verbally discussing addiction out-loud, often results in a necessary epiphany for caffeine- obsessed individuals. Not to mention, caffeine is also expensive, no matter what form you purchase it in.
From the undesirable side effects to the increasing amount of caffeine drinkers, something must be done to regulate the substance. Although caffeine is easy to become addicted to, it is even easier to quit. Ultimately, addiction is real, don’t deny it.