There is a lot of hue and cry over the fact that caffeine is an addictive substance and it is highly damaging for the body. Yes, it is addictive and there no denial about the fact, but the problem is that there are lot of things which are much more addictive than caffeine, but on the other hand, the benefits of moderate everyday consumption of caffeine clearly outweighs the addiction part of it.

Dr. Rolland R. Griffiths, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at the prestigious John Hopkins University School of Medicine is one of the pioneers when it comes to the research on behavioural and subjective effects of mood altering drugs. He has done considerable research on caffeine and its effects on the body.

He says that caffeine “actually produces a substance dependence syndrome; some people are dependent on caffeine much in the way they can become dependent on cigarette smoking or cocaine or amphetamines.”

2013 – Journal of Caffeine Research – caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. Although, consumption of low to moderate doses of caffeine is generally safe, consumption of higher doses by vulnerable individuals can lead to increased risk for negative health consequences, including cardiovascular problems and perinatal complications.

Caffeine has also shown to increase the dopaminergic activity in the brain and dopamine release in the brain is also caused by other drugs of dependence, including amphetamines and cocaine. The hormone dopamine regulates the brain’s pleasure and reward centres.

Caffeine intake has been shown to increase the production of hormones like serotonin, GABA and acetylcholine in the brain. This means an elevated mood and increase in energy. This also leads to the withdrawal symptoms like agitation, irritability, difficulty concentrating, headaches, fatigue, when caffeine is stopped.

Dr. Rolland says, “the tolerance to caffeine occurs when effects of caffeine decrease after repeated exposure to the drug, such that the same dose of caffeine no longer produces equivalent effects, or a higher dose of caffeine is needed to produce similar effects.

Although,complete tolerance does not occur at low doses, toleranceto some of the effects of caffeine can occur after chronic administration of very high doses of the drug (750-1200 mg/day).”

According to the researchers, the negative effects from intake of large amounts of caffeine like anxiety and nervousness is not a serious health threat. In fact, when compared to other addictive substances such as alcohol or nicotine, caffeine is relatively benign.

Dr. Carlton Erickson, Professor of Pharmacology and toxicology at the University of Texas says, “to suggestthat caffeine “addiction” somehow belongs in the samecategory as cocaine addiction, heroin addiction, alcoholaddiction, and nicotine addiction, gives the term addictiona bad name. We have enough stigma in this field withoutlabelling all overuse of any chemical or any ‘I really like it’activity as an addiction.”


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