Fact or Fiction: Is Caffeine Addictive?

Jejah Mae Namoco, Editor in Chief

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Caffeine, a must needed ingredient that most people can’t function through the mornings or late-night shifts without. It can come in the form of sweet smelling coffee, fizzy energy drinks, or even some calming tea. What makes everyone so addicted to it though? The top five facts on caffeine and why it’s so addictive were researched over the week and here is what was discovered.

The first fact is that caffeine is

as addicting as any other drug. According to article ‘Yes, People are Right. Caffeine is Addictive’ by the New York Times, “Researchers have confirmed for the first time the widely held belief that some people are addicted to c

affeine in the same way that others are addicted to cigarettes, alcohol, or intravenous drugs.”

A second fact was told by one of the researchers, Dr. Griffiths, who explained in the article, “Caffeine is the most used mind-altering drug.” More than 80% of Americans drink a little more than two cups of coffee’s worth of caffeine every day.

A third fact explains, “In most people, he [Dr. Griffiths] said, this amount of caffeine produces a mild, positive effect, including a feeling of well-being and alertness. Higher doses can produce anxiety and nervousness, but those negative effects do not in themselves constitute serious health risks.”

Dr. Griffith and his team measured addiction using the American Psychiatric Association’s definition of drug dependence which is the fourth fact, the four criteria to addiction: withdrawal symptoms, development of tolerance over time to effects, use of the substance in spite of health problems, and repeated unsuccessful quitting attempts.

The researchers decided to test out ho

w many people who said they were addicted, truly were addicted. They interviewed many coffee lovers, and found that only 16 people met all four criteria. Next, the researchers tested out whether the caffeine addiction effects were just imaginary, which brings the fifth fact: It is definitely not. To test the theory, the researchers gave some people caffeine pills, and others dummy pills filled with just starch, none knowing if they got a dummy or not. Of the people who got dummy pills, they all became dysfunctional.  Dr. Griffiths elaborated that, “One person who had a manufacturing job made costly others. Another could not go to work. One woman called off her child’s birthday party.”

This confirms just how addicting coffee can become, and how hard it is to quit once you reach all the criteria for addiction. As Dr. Griffiths says, “..caffeine was a drug that should be given respect…it may be more difficult to give up on caffeine than most people think.”


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