15 Sep 2014
Caffeine may be the most abused and most acceptable substance in America. Caffeine is a drug found in coffee, tea, energy drinks, sodas and chocolate. Many Americans need a fix first thing in the morning. If they don’t get it they feel groggy, foggy and irritable. Does this sound like you? If so, you may be a caffeine addict. It may not be as serious a condition as heroin addiction or alcoholism, but caffeine addiction has its own problems. Take a look at your habit and decide if you need to cut back.
What Is Caffeine?
Caffeine is a natural substance, but it has no nutritional value. It is a stimulant that activates the brain and other parts of the nervous system. Most people use caffeine for its stimulant properties. You have that cup of coffee in the morning to help you wake up and maybe another one later in the day to get over afternoon drowsiness. While coffee may have some nutritional benefits, consuming too much caffeine through coffee or another source can be problematic.
If you don’t get your fix you might experience withdrawal symptoms. These include drowsiness, nausea, irritability and headaches. Withdrawal is a classic sign of addiction. When you feel these uncomfortable symptoms, you take in more caffeine just to feel normal again. Experts debate whether or not you can really call this an addiction, as there are many differences between being hooked on caffeine and being hooked on harder drugs. A term that many experts will use instead of addiction is caffeine use disorder.
What Are The Signs Of Caffeine Addiction?
Withdrawal when you can’t get your caffeine fix is one sign of a caffeine use disorder, but it does not necessarily mean you have a serious problem. Another important sign of being addicted is being unable to stop using. If you want to cut back, but find you can’t, you may have a real problem with caffeine use. This is a sign of any addiction and it may mean that your caffeine habit is affecting you both physically and psychologically.
Doctors suggest that up to 400 milligrams per day is a safe amount of caffeine to consume. Another sign of addiction is if you are getting much more than this amount. Just having 500 to 600 milligrams a day can make you jittery, nervous, give you an upset stomach and elevate your heart rate. To give you an idea of how much you may be consuming each day, an eight-ounce cup of coffee contains between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine.
Kicking The Caffeine Habit
If you think you may be hooked, cut back on your caffeine intake before it takes over your life or harms your physical health. It’s so hard to stop drinking coffee because of those uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. You may need to experience them to some degree in order to cut back, but it won’t last forever. Try reducing your intake a little bit every day. One way to do this and minimize the shock to your system is to replace one cup of coffee each day with a cup of tea. Tea has caffeine, but less than coffee. As you try to reduce your caffeine consumption, use healthy techniques to reduce stress, including exercise, meditation or yoga.
Caffeine is a real drug and one that can be habit forming. If you are taking a hard look at your habit, you might realize that it’s time to cut back. Start slow and reduce your intake over time. Replace your usual drink with tea or another beverage so that you still have the comfort of a warm cup. Before you know it, you will be free from your caffeine addiction.