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Caffeine Use Disorder

February 04, 2014 by NCSF 0 comments

Do you suffer from Caffeine Use Disorder? Caffeine is the most widely-used drug in the world, and with social acceptance a key driver, many people are demonstrating clear signs of addition. Caffeine is found in many beverages including coffee, tea, and soda; but is also common in over-the-counter pain relievers as well as a whole host of dietary supplements (including food and beverage-based products) branded with some form of the word "energy." Products like 5-hour energy and caffeine shots are very common items at most convenience stores and remain available to all consumers including children; demonstrating the casualty of the drug.

A recent investigation into social addiction phenomenon concerning caffeine identifies that health professionals have been slow to characterize problematic caffeine use, and acknowledges that some cases may call for treatment - particularly when existing conditions are exacerbated with consumption such as hypertension. The study published in the Journal of Caffeine Research entitled "Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda," was coauthored by Laura Juliano of American University, Steven Meredith and Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and John Hughes from the University of Vermont.

Co-author Laura Juliano, a professor of psychology, suggests that the numbers of people dependent on caffeine is rising. And, according to the author, “this includes those addicted to the point that they suffer withdrawal symptoms and are unable to reduce caffeine consumption even if they have another condition that may be impacted by caffeine - such as a pregnancy, a heart condition, or a bleeding disorder.” Part of the problem is that caffeine is so publically accepted that it has become part of routine cultural interactions. Simply count the number of Starbucks in your community. Certainly, many people consume caffeine in appropriate quantities and the need for more does not affect their daily activities; but others demonstrate negative effects and physical dependence to the point that it interferes with daily functioning and forces them to pursue the drug.

The current study used the results of previously-published caffeine research to present the biological evidence for caffeine dependence. This data demonstrated the widespread dependence as well as the significant physical and psychological symptoms experienced by habitual caffeine users. The scientific community is beginning to recognize caffeine addiction as a public problem. In fact, in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association officially recognized Caffeine Use Disorder as a health concern in need of additional research in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders - the standard for classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals. While most people simply believe caffeine is easy to give up, the evidence suggests the contrary. According to Juliano, "There is misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use.”

Caffeine intake does not have any medically-defined guidelines. While tolerable upper limits and International Olympic Committee (IOC) regulations exist, most people have no idea how much caffeine they consume in a day. Coffee consumption alone can account for 400-600 mg per day among those who “have to hit Starbucks” in the morning, and again at 2 pm. An 8 oz cup of traditional American coffee has about 125 mg, these numbers jump rather dramatically for large portion coffee blends and coladas. Many health professionals are concerned that labels do not clearly indicate the quantity of caffeine by portion or serving size. Interestingly, popular “energy” drinks and related products clearly display the caffeine value for marketing to those in quest of heighted alertness. Based on current research, Juliano advises that healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 400 mg per day - the equivalent of about two to three 8-oz cups of coffee. Furthermore, pregnant women should consume less than 200 mg.


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