The truth about caffeine addiction

Millions of people around the world drink coffee start their day with a cup of coffee and for many of them it is just the first one of several cups of this delicious hot drink. The original taste of roasted coffee beans is not the sole reason why this beverage has so many devotees. Actually, it is the stimulating activity of caffeine which makes us reach out for coffee whenever we feel drained out.

Those coffee lovers who enjoy this drink frequently might notice that during the days when they can’t enjoy their cup of coffee, their levels of energy are really low. Furthermore, at this time some of unpleasant physical symptoms can be experienced as well. This raises a logical question: is it possible to develop an addict ion to caffeine?

What is caffeine and where do we take it from?

As it has already been mentioned above, caffeine is featured with a stimulative activity. Actually, caffeine is a stimulant affecting the central nervous system. The effects of the interaction of caffeine and CNS are general boost of the mood, enhanced concentration and, according to some studies, increased metabolism. No wonder why so many people use coffee regularly to increase their productivity.

If you are one of those people who actually doesn’t like drinking coffee, don’t be so sure you do not consume caffeine. Both black and green tea have this substance and, in fact, the amount of caffeine in dry tea leaves is far greater than the amount of caffeine in the same amount of roasted coffee beans. Yet, since for the preparation of a cup of tea one needs less tea leaves than the amount of coffee beans needed for making a cup of coffee, the amount of caffeine in a cup of tea is somewhat twice smaller than in a cup of coffee.

Moreover, you should be aware of the fact caffeine is also contained in cocoa beans and in some cocoa products the amount of caffeine can be rather high.

Of course, it is not a secret that many soft drinks include caffeine as well and, even if you do not consume any products listed above, you still might get caffeine with drugs, for example, with some analgesics.

Does caffeine affect the brain?

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, it does. The entire mechanism of the caffeine activity in the human’s body leads to the increased alert feeling.

Caffeine is absorbed by the small intestine and through this passage, it gets into the bloodstream where it dissolves. Caffeine can be dissolved in both fat and water which makes it possible for the substance to get through the blood-brain barrier entering the brain itself. Then, several changes in the brain take place.

First of all, caffeine blocks the receptors of adenosine which is a substance naturally present in the human body resembling caffeine. Adenosine accumulated in the brain cells’ receptors give you the feeling of tiredness, but once caffeine is inside this organ, its molecules get into the adenosine receptors blocking them for the time while caffeine is being metabolised completely. In addition to it, caffeine increases the activity of dopamine.

Because of this mechanism of the caffeine activity, the chemistry of brain as well as its characteristics change in people who drink coffee frequently. One of the major modifications that take place in this vital organ is the increased growth of adenosine receptors which is done by the brain in order to maintain balance. As a result, person with a greater number of adenosine receptors needs more caffeine for blocking at least a part of these receptors so that the previous effect of an energy boost can be achieved. As you can imagine, this is exactly how the tolerance to caffeine is developed.

Can one become addicted to caffeine?

Now, let’s try to answer the major question raised in this article. Is it actually possible to become addicted to caffeine?

As you have learnt so far, caffeine really changes the brain and can cause tolerance in your body. In many people drinking coffee on a regular basis, this leads to a condition in which they literally can’t wake up and start their day without at least one cup of coffee. Of course, this is a real symptom of a caffeine addiction.

Furthermore, an abrupt resign from drinking coffee can lead to one or several caffeine withdrawal symptoms which include not only a low energy state and as a result, difficulties with concentration or a depressed mood, but also increased irritability, anxiety, fatigue, headache and even tremors.

Since caffeine can cause toleration and withdrawal symptoms, The World Health Organisation has been considering caffeine addiction as a formal clinical disorder since 2012. Still, according to the modern psychiatry, this is not enough for regarding strong cravings for caffeine as a real addiction. The major reason for it is the fact that other types of substance addictions, including drug, nicotine or alcohol addictions interfere with the brain area responsible for the delay and gratification system controlling human’s actions and decisions.

No matter whether a caffeine craving is a real addiction or not, once you find your love for caffeinated drinks too interfering with your daily life, you can always try to quit this habit.