The view of caffeine consumption has changed in recent years, partly due to changes in diagnostic criteria for caffeine-related usage. According to the American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder-5 (APA; DSM-5, 2013), caffeine is a substance for which people can experience withdrawal, and this condition is now a formal disorder in the manual. With the addition of withdrawal criteria for caffeine, caffeine became a substance that could meet criteria for an “addiction.” In particular, people can require more coffee to achieve the same effects (tolerance) and they can experience withdrawal symptoms (i.e., headaches). Furthermore, caffeine consumption can interfere with people’s social and work lives. While this seems to be a stretch to argue the point, if someone consumes significant caffeine, he or she could experience untoward effects.
Caffeine has long been consumed in the form of soda or coffee due to its stimulant-like effects, however, the nature of caffeine consumption within the United States has changed drastically over the years. In particular, Budney and Emond (2014) indicate that energy drinks with significant amounts of caffeine have become popular with younger generations and these are used in excess. These drinks can have unwanted consequences, especially in young adults. For instance, the consumer may experience a racing heart, anxiety, and even seizure episodes.
The changing face of caffeine use over the years has led to caffeine being an addictive, but legal, substance. Oftentimes, when a substance is legal, people are unwilling to assess the possible detrimental effects, and consumers need to be aware that too much of this substance could lead to serious consequences and even a caffeine addiction. Consumers should be aware of safe amounts of caffeine to consume so that they are not exposed to adverse effects like seizures, anxiety, or heart problems which can be brought on by caffeine.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
- Budney, A.J., & Emond, J.A. (2014). Caffeine addiction? Caffeine for youth? Time to act! Addiction, 109, 1771-1772.