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Caffeine use disorder: Withdrawals without coffee fix, real addiction says study

Caffeine use disorder is being called a real addiction posing actual risks to frequent caffeine consumers by health experts this week. A new study from U.S. researchers says that some Americans have become so dependent on their caffeine fix — usually found in such drinks as coffee and tea — that they can suffer from withdrawals without it, or fail to realize its potentially harmful effects when taken in high doses over time. Canada Health News reports this Friday, Jan. 31, 2014, that a number of individuals screened in the study were found to have become so “addicted” to caffeine that they continued to have it even when outside conditions (like heart problems or pregnancy) should discourage its intake.

Cup of coffee placed on a wooden table
Coffee Cup Commons,

A caffeine use disorder may not be what coffee lovers around the nation want to hear, but it’s something that they certainly should be aware of this week. Many people of are frequent listeners to the morning statement, “Don’t even talk to me until I’ve had my morning coffee.” While this is often taken lightheartedly, for many people this is no laughing matter. A considerable number of individuals, contends the study, may even be addicted to caffeine — and such a needed fix could be a “real problem.”

According to researchers at American University in Washington, D.C., some people do in fact suffer from withdrawal symptoms when they have become accustomed to frequent ingestion of caffeine. This urge to have coffee or tea can become so irresistible that even those who should not be consuming caffeine (like those with a heart condition or in pregnancy) do so despite the risks. Caffeine is commonly known as the most widely used drug in the entire world, but health professionals are only now hoping that the public realizes not enough attention may have been given in the past to view caffeine use as possibly worrisome, dangerous, or even requiring treatment.

"The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognized as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines," said the study's co-author Laura Juliano. "And while many people can consume caffeine without harm, for some it produces negative effects, physical dependence, interferes with daily functioning, and can be difficult to give up."

In addition to other factors, researchers say that a variety of addiction problems may in fact be caused from both foreign and U.S. manufacturers inaccurately labeling how much caffeine is actually included in a specific product.

"At this time, manufacturers are not required to label caffeine amounts and some products such as energy drinks do not have regulated limits on caffeine," added the female author.

According to the press release on caffeine use disorder and ways to combat falling prey to the addictive power of this “drug:”

“To counter possible over-consumption, the study suggests limiting caffeine intake to 400 mg per day, which is the equivalent of about two to three 8 ounce cups of coffee. For pregnant women, as well as people who experience anxiety, insomnia or high blood pressure, that number drops down to less than 200 mg per day.”

A number of results found in the recently completed study were attained through a combination of past caffeine consumption research, as well as surveys polling for overall caffeine dependency combined with psychological and physical symptoms frequently experienced by recurring coffee and tea drinkers.

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