Caffeine Addiction


drug abuse help

Cup of CoffeeCaffeine
(C8H10N4O2) is a very common
substance that is contained in chocolate, soft drinks, tea, coffee, and
can also be purchased as capsules, tablets, or powder. Far and away,
though, the way most people use caffeine is through coffee. It is a
central nervous system stimulant and is used in most instances to
alleviate fatigue or aid concentration.

The first historical record of caffeine use was by the Aztec
Indians from the time of Montezuma. Caffeine was used in the form of a
hot drink made with cacao (the ‘chocolate’ tree) leaves and various
herbs and spices. Montezuma was said to have drunk up to 50 cups a day.
Chocolate, in the form of the chocolate bar, was first introduced by the
company Fry & Son in 1847. Coffee, however, proved to be a far more
popular form of caffeine intake. It is mentioned in the Koran, the holy
book of the Moslem religion and originates from Africa and the Middle
East. It was introduced into the United Kingdom originally as a medicine
but became extremely fashionable between 1670 and 1730, when there was a
massive increase in the number of coffee houses.

As noted above, over the years, coffee, teas and soft drinks
have been the most popular methods of taking caffeine. In recent
decades, however, over-the-counter “medications” containing
caffeine, such as Vivarin and NoDoz have become fairly
widespread. Common doses of caffeine range from 50mg. on the low end to
800mg. on the extreme upper end of the spectrum. Comparatively, a cup of
coffee contains about 100-150mg. of caffeine.

Caffeine increases heartbeat, respiration, metabolic rate,
and the production of stomach acid and urine; and it relaxes smooth
muscles, including the bronchial muscle. These changes vary among people
and depend upon the individual’s sensitivity to this drug, their
metabolism and whether the consumer habitually uses or rarely uses
caffeine (ie. their tolerance to the drug). How long the effects last is
influenced by the person’s hormonal status, whether he/she uses tobacco
or takes medications or if they have a disease that impairs liver

These effects can begin as early as 10-20 minutes after ingestion.
Maximum effects are reached in about 30-60 minutes.

There is some evidence linking caffeine heart problems, fibrocystic
breast disease(FBD), ulcers and other stomach disorders in regular
users. It has also been suggested as a possible cause of cancer and
birth defects.
Source: The Health
Consequences of Caffeine, by P. Curatolo; D. Robertson Annals of
Internal Medicine
, Vol 98 (part 1) May 1983; 641-653

Regular caffeine consumption creates a tolerance to caffeine.
When the caffeine intake is then reduced, blood pressure drops
dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not
necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from
one to five days, and can be alleviated with over-the-counter analgesics
such as aspirin. It can also be alleviated with caffeine intake. Many
analgesics, in fact, contain some caffeine.

Other symptoms can include irritability, nervousness, and feeling
sleepy, as well as having the caffeine headache.
Source: Caffeine and Health.
J. E. James, Academic Press, 1991. Progress in Clinical and Biological
Research Volume 158. G. A. Spiller, Ed. Alan R. Liss Inc, 1984. 

Physical Dependence: Moderate
Psychological Dependence: Moderate
Tolerance: Moderate

While there are a few treatment programs designed specifically
for caffeine, most treatment models treat the addiction, not the
specific substance. Below are some treatment programs that may be useful
for caffeine users as well as others who feel that they may need
professional help relating to addiction:

treatment helpline

More Information: