Much like opioid usage or alcohol abuse, caffeine is an addictive substance that we fail to acknowledge. In North America, the United Kingdom, and Denmark, 82% to 95% of adults regularly consume caffeine without knowledge of its effects. The harmful effects of caffeine can be detrimental, much like the effects of nicotine usage during pregnancy or even recreational usage of drugs. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, caffeine-intoxication, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder, caffeine-induced sleep disorder, and caffeine withdrawals are mentioned as an effect of caffeine dependence. Though there is mention of psychological effects, there are also increased risks of heart related diseases and even pregnancy related outcomes. In this essay, the audience will be informed of the potential effects of caffeine addiction and how you can avoid these harmful consequences.
Everyone has witnessed the behavior of a drug addict, but what does caffeine addiction look like? “And that's exactly what addiction is, the presenter pointed out. When you can't function—stay alert and active—without something, you're dependent upon it” (Scheiwe). According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry (American). “Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response” (American). To understand the behavior and harmful effects, you must first understand how you may become addicted to caffeinated beverages or over the counter caffeinated prescriptions. At the molecular level, adenosine receptors bind to neurotransmitters and proteins, which releases the neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate, and acetylcholine (Lara). Dopamine is responsible for the brain’s pleasures. To an extent, caffeine can manage your life because of the satisfactory you are continually filling.
Not only does a caffeine addiction cause psychological effects, but it may also cause harmful physical effects as well. “The symptoms that were deemed valid include headache, fatigue, decreased energy, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, foggy headedness, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and muscle pain. Excessive caffeine consumption has been noted to increase the risk of miscarriages, as well as cause symptoms such as headaches due to withdrawals. Withdrawal symptoms have been reported to occur between 6 and 43 hours after abstinence and last from 2 to 9 days. During this time period, you will experience fatigue and anxiety, as well as the other symptoms listed above. Caffeine consumption has been linked to shortened sleep time, which has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension (Júdice).
Knowing these facts, caffeine addiction is avoidable by reducing your intake or simply removing caffeine from your diet by cutting back slowly, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and boosting your energy naturally. Though not necessarily as severe as a drug addiction, a caffeine addiction can easily take a toll on you physically and emotionally. Without knowledge, we are damaging ourselves more as time goes on. Developing such a strong addiction can be destructive in more ways than one. To ensure your health, it is recommended to limit your caffeine intake to less than 100 mg per day. It is important to regulate all deciding factors in your life when it comes to your health, and this can easily begin by limiting your daily caffeinated beverages or your caffeinated prescriptions.
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