“My blood type is Diet Coke.” “I’m a zombie without my morning coffee.” Many of us may make a joke similar to these about needing a daily jolt of our chosen caffeinated beverage. However, recently a study has indicated that there are lots more people dependent on caffeine to the point that they would go through withdrawal symptoms, or be unable to reduce consumption even if they have another condition that could be impacted by caffeine.
American University psychology professor Laura Juliano, who recently coauthored a study on the effects of caffeine says, “the negative effects of caffeine are often not recognized as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines. And while many people can consume caffeine without harm, for some it produces negative effects, physical dependence, interferes with daily functioning, and can be difficult to give up, which are signs of problematic use.”
The study pulls together results of previously published caffeine research to show the biological evidence for caffeine dependence, and the physical and psychological symptoms felt by some obsessive caffeine users. And, as far as looking more closely into the situation, the scientific community is starting to “wake up and smell the coffee!”
“There is a misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in population-based studies, more than 50% of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use,” says Juliano. Based on her research, she recommends that healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 400mg per day – about the same as 2 to 3 8 ounces of coffee. Those people with anxiety or insomnia, as well as those with high blood pressure, or heart problems should also limit caffeine. Check with your health care provider if you have questions about your caffeine intake.
For many people though, a drive through Starbucks is a daily ritual. Would people actually consider giving up caffeine if it was good for them to do so? Juliano believes so. “Through our research, we have observed that people who have been unable to quit or cut back on caffeine on their own would be interested in receiving formal treatment – similar to the outside assistance people can turn to if they want to quit smoking.” …… Science Daily 2/5/14