Many of us consume caffeine on a daily basis. Whether it's in the form of coffee, tea or soda, it is a substance that gives us energy and gets us through our everyday lives. What we usually do not think about is that caffeine can be addictive just like many other external, illicit chemical compounds.
When we think of addictions we usually think of things like alcohol, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. Caffeine almost never crosses our minds. Yet if we take a closer look we can see that the chronic intake of caffeine exhibits the same characteristics as many of the drugs previously mentioned. We will take a closer look at five different parameters that would make one categorize caffeine as a possible addiction:
1) The effects of caffeine on the nervous system
4) Withdrawal symptoms
5) The need for treatment
Caffeine is a stimulant that acts on the nervous system. It provides the user with a "high" or a "rush" that is often seen with other stimulants. Constant use of the substance can make one's body dependent on the compound. Many of us have often complained that we can not get through the morning without a coffee or we need a soda to get rid of the headache. This is the classic definition of dependence and what we are often feeling are withdrawal symptoms. It is also believed that caffeine alters receptors in the brain which leads to tolerance. This simply states that the more you use, the more you need to feel that "buzz" or "rush".
As mentioned before, most don't consider caffeine in the category as other illicit drugs. Many do not feel there is a danger as seen with cocaine, meth, etc. Although, there are situations that can call for treatment. This is when the user's withdrawal symptoms have gotten to the point that they are intolerable without intake of caffeine. Treatment can be provided in the form of counseling and 12 step programs.
Caffeine's ability to alter the nervous system, build dependence and tolerance as well as exude withdrawal symptoms makes us believe that an addiction can definitely be formed to this socially accepted substance.
More information here: Caffeine Addiction
John Bell has spent the past 12 years in the healthcare arena. This includes work in drug discovery, diagnostics as well as addiction treatment.
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