Caffeine Abuse

Caffeine Abuse

Most of us think of caffeine as a fairly benign substance. It’s legal, it’s acceptable to drink at any time of day, and it’s a natural component in many foods and beverages. It’s effects are so common and generally so subtle that it is hard to differentiate between the effects of caffeine and the normal psychological and emotional ups and downs of everyday life.

However, anything can be dangerous if you abuse it, and caffeine IS a drug. Plus, caffeine containing products often contain abnormally high amounts of caffeine plus other stimulants. Regular users can experience all types of unpleasant symptoms when they stop drinking it and it can be detrimental to your health.

Caffeine Abuse: Dependence

Caffeine abuse may lead to physical and psychological dependence. People who take in as little as one hundred milligrams of caffeine a day can acquire a physical dependence that results in withdrawal symptoms if caffeine use is stopped abruptly. Withdrawal symptoms can include headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, depressed mood, and irritability. Withdrawals from caffeine abuse can occur within 12-24 hours of stopping and could last as long as nine days. The symptoms can be so pronounced that some experts believe that caffeine withdrawal should be classified as a psychological disorder.

Caffeine Abuse: Caffeine Intoxication

Caffeine abuse can also lead to caffeine intoxication. Caffeine intoxication is a state of central nervous system stimulation due to high intake of caffeine. The nervous system becomes overworked. It can cause excessive neural activity and possibly seizures. Severe caffeine intoxication can lead to hospitalization and even death.

Caffeine abuse: Effects

Caffeine abuse can cause a number of unpleasant side effects. One of the most common is headache. Caffeine constricts the blood vessels in the brain, resulting in painful headaches.

Another side effect of caffeine abuse is dehydration. Caffeine acts as a diuretic, stimulating the kidneys to remove fluid from the body through the urine. This can result in dehydration.

Caffeine is a CNS stimulant, so caffeine abuse often leads to feelings of nervousness, insomnia, and irritability.

People who consume more than 1,000 mg of caffeine per day may develop a condition known as caffeinism. It is characterized by extreme anxiety, nervous twitches, and rapid breathing. In extreme cases of caffeine abuse, people can even experience visual hallucinations.

Caffeine Abuse: Precautions

If you are going to drink a lot of caffeine or take caffeine pills, there are some precautions you should take:

  • Drink plenty of water: Caffeine can act as a diuretic, so water is essential so you don’t dehydrate your body.
  • Try to avoid drinking caffeine late in the day: If you take caffeine pills in the late afternoon or evening, it can make it harder for you to get a good night’s sleep.
  • Cut back slowly: If you have been drinking caffeine for some time, your body could’ve become dependent on the caffeine intake. Cutting back slowly over a period of a few days will help you avoid withdrawal symptoms.