Is Caffeine Addictive?
Addiction to caffeine is a topic probably laughed about by coffee lovers everywhere. Many know the struggle of waking up and not feeling ‘alive’ until their first cup of coffee. However, the medical community now considers this a diagnosable disorder. In 2015 the DSM-5 listed caffeine withdrawal syndrome as a mental disorder.
Caffeine is considered a psychoactive drug. Typically, psychoactive drugs include (). Altering mood and perception, psychoactives actually change the way the brain functions. Addiction is in part a neurobiological process in which substances, such as heroin or alcohol, change the function of the brain.
Different drugs change the brain in different ways, affecting different areas. The specific neuroscience of why caffeine is addictive is complicated. Caffeine is a stimulant, but not on it’s own accord. Rather than stimulate the brain independently, caffeine encourages the brain’s natural stimulants to engage in hyperactivity. Essentially, caffeine both revs the engine, while cutting the brake line. Feeling the effects of caffeine can last up to six hours. With regular caffeine consumption, the effects lessen over time because the brain changes. Needing more caffeine to achieve similar or greater effect than the last dose is the beginning of caffeine addiction. Eventually, so much caffeine is being consumed at a time, that the brain experiences withdrawal when caffeine is not present in the system.
Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal
- Unclear mind or mental haze
- Aching or restless muscles
- Flu-like symptoms
Withdrawal from caffeine lasts up to two weeks, and varies per person. Cravings will be an absolute force in caffeine withdrawal, which is what indicates it is indeed an addictive substance.