It is not an uncommon thing to hear – ‘I missed my morning coffee’ or ‘I’m addicted to caffeine’. Caffeine is a major component in coffee and a number of different energy drinks. It is believed that regularly consuming caffeine can result in one becoming addicted to it. Some even say that they cannot make a start to their day without having at least 2 cups of coffee in the morning. Some people even get rather shaky if they miss their coffee.
While caffeine addiction may be a commonly discussed topic, the question is whether or not this condition actually exists. If we look at the effects that caffeine has on our nervous system, one would find that it does in fact stimulate parts of the brain that control arousal and alertness. If an individual has been consuming coffee for a long period of time, there is a chance that they will develop a form of physical dependence to it.
But the good news is that caffeine addiction is in no way similar to addiction to illicit drugs and other substances. In the case of the latter, the person cannot function if they do not get their daily dose of the drugs that the use. Clearly this is not the case with caffeine but is worthwhile remembering that some people who miss the morning coffee or their required dose of caffeine can experience symptoms such as tiredness, irritability, headaches, anxiety and even mild depression. Some people drink coffee so that they can stay alert and concentrate so missing their daily dose of caffeine can result in them being unable to concentrate at work or at home.
A question that can arise is ‘how much coffee is too much coffee?’ Well, doses between 200 to 300 mg of caffeine which amounts to 3 to 4 cups of coffee a day does not cause any harm. However, more than 4 cups of coffee a day can cause symptoms such as a fast heartbeat (palpitations), insomnia, an upset stomach and even irritability. Some people may experience a nervous disposition and even muscle tremors. The symptoms depend upon how sensitive the person is to caffeine and some may even find out that only one or 2 cups of coffee can cause the symptoms. The development of caffeine addiction symptoms often depend upon a number of different factors such as the person’s age and underlying health.
Taking the right steps
If you feel that you have a caffeine addiction, you may want to start cutting back on the amount of coffee or caffeinated drinks that you consume. This can be achieved in a simple and straightforward manner by monitoring the amount of caffeinated drinks you consume and gradually cutting back on a daily basis. These days, decaffeinated drinks are easily available which can also help. It is only a matter of time before you can get over the addiction.
Caffeine addiction is a well recognized problem but is in no way serious. Consuming small amounts of caffeine everyday has no effect on a person’s health other than helping them become alert. Larger amounts can cause addiction and suddenly stopping the consumption of caffeine can cause annoying symptoms. Simple steps can be taken and gradually decrease caffeine intake and get over the addiction.