We at Addictive Addiction occasionally get questions from readers about specific drugs. For example, we were asked about synthetic weed, as well as a few other lesser known drugs like ayahuasca and even melatonin.
Recently we were asked several questions about coffee, and while we’ve covered caffeine in the past, we thought we’d talk about coffee a little bit as well. Is coffee addictive? Can you overdose on coffee? Here’s what we know about the drink, and the chances of becoming addicted to coffee.
Is Coffee Addictive?
Is coffee addictive? One might think so. Standing in line at Starbucks, hearing customers order triple shot grande this and that, you’d think that coffee was more addictive than heroin or cocaine.
Coffee, however, is not addictive. Coffee and the caffeine that it contains does provide stimulating effects to the body. Here’s how it works.
In your brain, there is a chemical called adenosine. This chemical affects your attention, alertness and overall sense of “tiredness.” As the day goes on, the adenosine in your body builds up, until it signals to your brain that it’s time to go to bed. You will feel physically tired.
The caffeine in coffee blocks adenosine. When there’s caffeine in your brain, it keeps adenosine from binding to receptors in your brain, causing you to feel a bit of energy. There are other chemicals which coffee effects, as well, but the energy boost alone is what keeps some drinking coffee throughout the day.
So is coffee addictive? Not really. That said, though, coffee drinkers do become dependent upon the energy they derive from the drink. It’s not classified as an addiction by most experts, however, and the substances in coffee are not considered to be addictive drugs (much like marijuana).
Those who depend upon coffee do come to rely on the energy they derive from the caffeine. But what would happen if they stopped? Sure, they’d experience a bit of caffeine withdrawal, but there would be no serious or lasting side effects.
Coffee addiction has unfortunately become a bit of a buzz word over the past few decades. We say unfortunately because we feel that those who claim they are “addicted” to coffee are, in fact, diminishing the struggles of those who have real addictions. This is not something we condone on Addictive Addiction.
A coffee addiction would be indicated by psychological impact and physiological effects of coffee on the body. Those simply do not exist. Coffee addiction is not possible in adults with normal psychological composition. Instead, those who claim to have a coffee addiction should merely state that they just really like coffee.
How Common is Coffee Addiction?
The instance of coffee addiction in the United States is a whopping 0%. It’s possible for you to crave coffee, but these cravings are generally out of habit. For example, you usually start your day with a cup or two of coffee. One week, you and your family are on vacation and there’s no coffee around. You will almost certainly crave it.
Coffee is not addictive in the true definition of the word. Cravings for coffee are based solely on habit in psychologically healthy people.
How Much Caffeine is in Coffee?
In one 8 fluid ounce cup of coffee, there are 95 milligrams of coffee. It is generally thought that 400 milligrams per day of caffeine will cause no ill effects on the body.
Coffee Effects (Positive)
It’s unusual for us to laud any benefits of drugs we list on Addictive Addiction. We understand that, to the user, all drugs have their benefits. That’s why they’re addictive.
However, because coffee is not considered an addictive substance, we’ll outline a few benefits of the caffeine found in the drink.
First of all, coffee is well known to be a bronchodilator for those with breathing difficulty. The combination of the warmth of the liquid and the caffeine in the drink can help an asthma or other sufferer breathe more quickly. This is true in emergency situations, and should not be considered a long term solution.
There has been research which suggests that the consumption of caffeine may also prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The same is true for depression; women who drink 4 or more cups of coffee are 20% less likely to suffer severe depression.
Drinking coffee does have its benefits. Unfortunately, there are quite a few claims out there that are just plain unsubstantiated. Be sure to consult with your doctor before using coffee for any medical reason.
Coffee Effects on the Body
Coffee, despite the relatively positive effects it may have, also can have negative effects on the body. The most frequently occurring of these negative effects is the wearing of the stomach lining and the esophageal lining. Simply put, too much coffee can lead to ulcer.
Coffee can also exacerbate IBS and other digestive troubles. If you experience any of these effects, discontinue drinking coffee and note any changes for the better. Cessation of coffee drinking may be just what you need.
Coffee Side Effects
The short term effects of coffee are fairly benign, and some are obvious. Most people who drink too much coffee will experience jitteriness, and may feel a bit “jumpy,” or easy to startle. Too much coffee may also cause a ringing in the ears, as if everything is being heard through a tunnel.
Irregular heartbeats are not uncommon in those who drink coffee. This is why it’s important for those who have heart conditions to consult a physician before drinking coffee regularly. In those cases, drinking coffee could prove quite dangerous.
Other Drinks with Caffeine
Coffee isn’t the only source of caffeine, as you already know. Other drinks with caffeine include:
• Black tea (both hot and cold)
• Green tea and green tea extract
• White tea
• Some chocolate drinks
• Colas and other sodas
• Energy drinks
• Energy “shots”
• In some cases, “specialty” alcoholic beverages
There are foods which contain caffeine as well, including some chocolate products, ice cream and others. If you’re trying to abstain from caffeine, be sure to check the package labeling. Manufacturers are required by law to disclose that a product contains caffeine.