Can caffeine cause addiction?

In association with our partners at MedGuru.ie, each week on www.clarepeople.com we will take a look at a health care topic related to medicine and family health – this week it’s caffeine addiction.

Many of us find it difficult to get through the day at work without several cups of tea or coffee, while some need that cup of coffee to get us out of bed in the mornings. Most of us take caffeine in some form in our everyday lives – and we rarely think about it’s effect on our bodies. Caffeine is a bitter alkaloid, which stimulates the nervous system – it is thought to be the most widely used stimulant in the world.

Can caffeine cause addiction?

In the true sense of the word, yes caffeine is addictive. Regular use does cause a mild physical dependence through stimulating the nervous system. Those of us who have tried to stop our caffeine habit abruptly, know that we can experience clear withdrawal symptoms for a few days, and it’s not pleasant.

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms include: “Research has shown that there is no clear link between…”

headache;
fatigue;
increased irritability;
depressed mood;
inability to focus.

How much caffeine is okay?

This is dependent on the individual. Research has shown that there is no clear link between caffeine consumption (up to two cups of coffee per day) in small doses (up to 2 cups of coffee per day) and increased incidence of disease. Although many people say that once they have kicked the habit they feel much healthier and have more energy than before.

5 tips to help you kick the caffeine habit

Give up coffee slowly. This will decrease the withdrawal symptoms of headache and irritability, and make it easier to stick to your goal.
Find caffeine from other sources. Did you know there is caffeine in chocolate, and even decaffeinated coffee. If you replace your regular coffees with decaffeinated coffee while you are cutting down, you will still be getting you caffeine fix, but much less of it.
Find another way to get that ‘buzz’. Vigorous exercise will combat the irritability and fatigue you may suffer as you give up coffee, but the endorphins released during exercise also give you that ‘runners high’ we all hear about.
Don’t allow yourself to get hungry. Eat more low GI foods instead of drinking coffee. You will find that you are less irritable and jumpy with the longer lasting sustenance that comes from slow release carbohydrates and protein.
Listen to the fatigue – chances are, like most adults these days, you are ‘running on empty’ and have been using coffee to keep you going. Tiredness is our bodies way of telling us we need to recharge our batteries. Find a good book and try to get to bed at roughly the same time every night while your new healthy sleep pattern develops.

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