Is caffeine an addiction or just a bad habit?

By Victoria Boland
April 1, 2020

Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels.
Photo by Jessica Lewis from Pexels.

“Drinking coffee isn’t something I just need but is something that helps me get through my everyday routine.”

Starting at the age of 10, Joshua Hopkins has thrived off of coffee. At first, coffee was something that tasted good to him and was a here and there drink that he enjoyed. As he got older he discovered that caffeine was something that he needed to live.

“I never thought that drinking coffee could become an addiction but I, firsthandedly, will say I am addicted to coffee,” Hopkins said. 

In the United States alone, there are approximately 150 million daily coffee drinkers. Most coffee drinkers enjoy a caffeine buzz, which is an effect that occurs from drinking coffee, sugary drinks, consuming chocolate, tea and sugary soda.

The website stated, “Back in 1511, leaders in Mecca believed it stimulated radical thinking and outlawed the drink.” Photo by Victoria Boland.

The website stated “Caffeine can become addictive through changes it causes in your brain. Additionally, drinking coffee often produces positive feelings, which encourage you to repeat the behavior.”

Caffeine is a stimulant that alerts the brain; which is generally why people consume coffee to make them feel more awake. stated, “A recent study conducted by the University of Kentucky reported that over 76 percent of the surveyed students used caffeine to stay awake.”

“If I don’t drink coffee I feel sluggish, moody and I get bad migraines,” Hopkins said. 

Headaches seem to be the most common symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. When eliminating coffee from your daily life it will increase blood flow to the brain. The blood flow which was once not there will provide pressure in the brain causing a headache or migraine. 

The main symptoms of caffeine withdrawal are:

  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Depression states, “Symptoms typically begin within 12 to 24 hours after discontinuing caffeine, peaking during the first two days, and can last all the way up to day nine.”

Symptoms can affect individuals who are daily coffee drinkers or people who drink coffee here and there. It all depends on how much your body is dependent on the substance. 

“Coffee can be made in so many different ways with so many flavors, it never gets old. The best part is that I always feel refreshed after drinking it typically once in the morning and once in the afternoon sometimes mid-day as well,” Hopkins said. 

Hopkins isn’t alone. Consistent coffee drinkers tend to drink coffee multiple times a day sometimes using coffee as a meal replacement since it can provide the body with an effect of feeling full.

Infographic by Victoria Boland.

The scholarly article Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda stated, “Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world. Although consumption of low to moderate doses of caffeine is generally safe, an increasing number of clinical studies are showing that some caffeine users become dependent on the drug and are unable to reduce consumption despite knowledge of recurrent health problems associated with continued use.”

A study conducted by Catherine L.W. Striley, Roland R. Griffiths and Linda B. Cottler in the Journal of Caffeine Research study on caffeine use with “students, drug treatment patients and pain clinic patients who reported caffeine use in the last 7 days and also reported use of alcohol, nicotine or illicit drugs within the past year.”

Conclusion of the results was that “The present study adds to a growing literature suggesting the reliability, validity and clinical utility of the caffeine dependence diagnosis. Recognition of caffeine dependence in the DSM-V may be clinically useful.”

The website stated, “More than 500 billion cups of coffee are consumed each year, making coffee the world’s most popular beverage.” Photo by Victoria Boland.

Note: DSM-V 5 stands for (“Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition.”) 

Caffeine may be something that causes positive and negative effects on our bodies. However, caffeine can be useful for certain outcomes as the study above stated.

Caffeine may be a substance that many people consume and enjoy daily. But it is considered a habit not an addiction.

“As I have gotten older I have tried to wean off of caffeine drinking. It is hard but I know I can’t be dependant on a substance forever,” Hopkins stated. 



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Victoria Boland

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