Caffeine Use Disorder Found to be Widespread Health
Problem Needing Attention
A favorite for senior coffee addicts, caffeine is the
most widely used drug, but little is known about helping those who
depend on it
Jan. 29, 2014 - Senior citizens are probably the
least likely to approve of legalized drugs, like marijuana, yet, many
are addicted to the most widely used drug in the world, caffeine. A new
study indicates this condition – “Caffeine Use Disorder” – causes
withdrawal symptoms and many cannot resist their morning coffee even if
they have a condition like pregnancy, heart trouble or bleeding disorder
that can be negatively impacted.
The study found increasing numbers of people
dependent on caffeine, which is found in everything from coffee, tea,
and soda, to OTC pain relievers, chocolate, and now a whole host of food
and beverage products branded with some form of the word "energy."
Laura Juliano, a psychology professor at American
University and coauthor of the study, says health professionals have
been slow to characterize problematic caffeine use and acknowledge that
some cases may call for 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,"
Juliano said. "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, which are signs
of problematic use."
"There is misconception among professionals and lay
people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in
population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine
consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing
caffeine use," said Juliano.
"Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and
Research Agenda," which Juliano coauthored with Steven Meredith and
Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and
John Hughes from the University of Vermont, published last fall in the
Journal of Caffeine Research.
Grounds for More Research
Last spring, the American Psychiatric Association
officially recognized Caffeine Use Disorder as a health concern in need
of additional research in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of
Mental Health Disorders—the standard classification of mental disorders,
now in its fifth edition (DSM-5), used by mental health professionals in
the United States.
Juliano served as an appointed advisor to the DSM-5
Substance Use Disorders work group and helped outline the symptoms for
the Caffeine Use Disorder inclusion.
"Furthermore, genetics research may help us to
better understand the effects of caffeine on health and pregnancy as
well as individual differences in caffeine consumption and sensitivity,"
Limit Your Caffeine
Based on current research, Juliano advises that
healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 400 mg
per day - the equivalent of about two to three 8-oz cups of coffee.
Pregnant women should consume less than 200 mg per
day and people who regularly experience anxiety or insomnia—as well as
those with high blood pressure, heart problems, or urinary
incontinence—should also limit caffeine.
But limiting one's caffeine intake is often easier
said than done as most people don't know how much caffeine they consume
"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," Juliano said, adding that if this
changed, people could perhaps better limit their consumption and
ideally, avoid caffeine's possible negative effects.
But in a nation where a stop at Starbucks is a
daily ritual for many people, is there really a market for caffeine
cessation? Juliano says yes.
"Through our research, we have observed that people
who have been unable to quit or cut back on caffeine on their own would
be interested in receiving formal treatment—similar to the outside
assistance people can turn to if they want to quit smoking or tobacco
American University is a leader in global
education, enrolling a diverse student body from throughout the United
States and nearly 140 countries. Located in Washington, D.C., the
university provides opportunities for academic excellence, public
service, and internships in the nation's capital and around the world.
Good news may warrant changes to current heart failure prevention guidelines of American Heart Association that say coffee drinking
may be risky for heart patients; bit of bad news - excess coffee bad! -
June 27, 2012
Positive impact of caffeine on cognition and memory
performance, other benefits of caffeine in special supplement to the
Journal of Alzheimer's Disease - (Amsterdam) May 17, 2010
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