Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in many foods and drinks. It can help you feel more alert but also cause withdrawal symptoms when you stop drinking or eating caffeinated products.
Coffee, tea, chocolate, and some soft drinks contain caffeine, but so do some medicines like aspirin and cold remedies. Even decongestants have a small amount of caffeine.
Some people become addicted to the effects of caffeine by drinking coffee or tea every day at work or school for several years. They may feel anxious if they stop using these products because they’ll miss their regular dose of “energy.”
However, this anxiety could result from withdrawal from caffeine. After a few days without caffeine intake, these symptoms will subside, and you will feel okay. Currently, there’s no proven link between long-term regular caffeine and developing an addiction problem later on down the line.
How Does Caffeine Affect Your Body?
Caffeine is a stimulant. It is naturally found in coffee beans, tea leaves, and cacao seeds. Caffeine has been proven to increase concentration, improve mood and energy levels, and boost physical performance. However, these effects are temporary. Caffeine does not provide long-term benefits such as increased productivity or improved memory.
In addition to the effect listed above, which may be beneficial for some, caffeine can cause several adverse side effects, including:
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tremors (shakiness)
Signs of Caffeine Addiction
According to Addiction Center’s article on “Caffeine Addiction,” “The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not recognize Caffeine addiction as a [substance use disorder], but it does recognize it as a condition for future study.” However, caffeine withdrawal is considered a clinical condition.
Caffeine addiction occurs when an individual experiences at least three of the following symptoms:
- Consistent desire or unsuccessful attempts to cut down on caffeine use
- Continued use of caffeine despite knowledge of adverse physical and psychological effects
- Withdrawal symptoms when caffeine use is stopped
- A need for more caffeine to achieve desired effects
- Diminished effects with continued use of the same amounts of caffeine
- Cravings or strong desires to consume caffeine
While caffeine addiction is not recognized in the DSM-5, caffeine withdrawal is a medically-recognized condition. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Depressed mood
- Low energy
Should I Worry About My Caffeine Intake?
Should you worry about your caffeine intake? The answer depends on a few factors. If you’re one of the millions of people who regularly use caffeine, chances are that you already know how much caffeine is too much for your system. If not, here are some things to think about.
How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?
The average healthy adult can tolerate up to 400 mg of caffeine per day, which equates to about four cups of coffee. However, some people are more sensitive than others.
Caffeine intake varies from person to person depending on how their bodies process the drug. Other factors that influence how quickly your body absorbs caffeine include how long you’ve been drinking it and whether or not there are other drugs in your system – like antihistamines – at the same time.
How Quickly Does Someone Create Tolerance?
People don’t suddenly develop a tolerance to caffeine one day. It takes time for the tolerance of this substance to take hold. According to researchers at the Public Library of Science, it typically takes 10-15 days before someone develops tolerance levels that require more caffeine to feel normal again.
However, when withdrawal symptoms occur after this point, they will be milder if the individual has not taken any substances containing caffeine regularly for several weeks beforehand.
Treatment for Caffeine Addiction
People who struggle with caffeine intake typically struggle with conditions such as insomnia or eating disorders. Finding treatment for any underlying mental health disorders is the key to overcoming caffeine addiction. Individual therapy is the currently existing treatment for people who struggle with caffeine. A therapist can help you find tools to use in everyday life that help reduce the need for caffeine intake.
The Bottom Line on Caffeine
While caffeine addiction is not currently recognized as a type of substance use disorder (SUD), people can become dependent on the substance. While you might want to moderate your caffeine intake, especially if you’re pregnant or have high blood pressure, caffeine addiction is not life-threatening.
Whether you see caffeine as a magical elixir that gives you energy, or a substance that’s robbing you of your joy, it ultimately comes down to choice. Choose what is right for you and your daily life.
For most people, caffeine shouldn’t be a problem. It can be a healthy way for you to get through the day. However, for some, it can be something they become dependent on that can lead to negative consequences.
If you’re concerned about your caffeine intake, there are plenty of ways to reduce or eliminate it from your life. You may not even need to quit altogether. Just cutting back on how much coffee or soda you drink daily may do wonders for you. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to any substance, Villa Oasis San Diego wants to help you work through that.
If you are in the San Diego area and looking for a luxurious rehab facility to help aid you in your recovery and treatment, reach out to us today. We want to help you on this journey. Call (323) 739-8673.