MOST POPULAR ADDICTIVE DRUG
OF PUBLICATION: JUNE 2002
OF PUBLICATION: JUNE 2002
are hooked on caffeine. Ninety percent consume it in one form or another
every single day. Over half consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine
every day. It is our nations most popular drug. It is in coffee, tea,
cola, chocolate, and a variety of other things.
is an addictive drug. It operates on the brain, using the same
mechanisms as amphetamines, cocaine, and heroin to stimulate the brain.
Although it is milder than the others, it is manipulating the same
channels. This is one of the reasons it is addictive.
you think that you cannot function every day with it, and must consume
it every day, you are addicted to caffeine.
is trimethylxanthine. Its chemical formula is C8H10N402.
When isolated in pure form, caffeine is a white crystalline powder that
tastes very bitter.
use it as a cardiac stimulant and also as a mild diuretic (increases
urine production). But regular folk take it for the apparent boost of
energy or feeling of heightened alertness it gives. It is often used
to help people stay awake longer.
what is happening is that the body is tired and needs rest; but,
instead, it is whipped into action. Beating a horse always hurts it. The
body, repeatedly pushed into greater activity when it wants to stop for
rest, is gradually damaged. Instead of recovering, organs gradually
weaken. Eventually, the weakest ones become diseased, and the person
wonders why it happened.
occurs naturally in many plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, and
cocoa nuts. Because of this, it is found in a wide variety of food
products. In addition, caffeine is added to many other foods, including
is a dangerous menu to think about:
Coffee: Typical drip-brewed coffee contains 100 milligrams (mg.) per
6-ounce (oz.) cup.
you are buying it at Starbucks or a store, drinking it at home or at the
office, out of a mug or commuters cup, you are consuming it in one of
three sizes: 12 oz. (200 mg.), 14 oz. (234 mg.), or 20 oz. (334 mg.).
That is a lot of caffeine!
Tea: Typical brewed tea contains 70 mg. in each 6-oz. cup.
Cola drinks: Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dew, etc., contain 50 mg. per 12-oz.
can. Jolt contains 70 mg. per 12-oz. can.
Chocolate: Typical milk chocolate contains 6 mg. per oz.
Drugs: Anacin contains 32 mg. per tablet. No-doz contains 100 mg. per
tablet. Vivarin and Dexatrim contain 200 mg. per tablet.
down and calculate how much you are taking each day, and you might be
surprised. Many people consume a gram (1000 mg.) or more every single
day, without realizing it.
what does caffeine do when it gets into the body?
your body becomes fatigued, adenosine is made in the brain, and binds to
adenosine receptors. This causes drowsiness by slowing nerve cell
activity. You want to stop and rest. You want to go to sleep. This is
good, for you need the rest. In the brain, the adenosine also causes
blood vessels to dilate (enlarge), so more oxygen can reach the brain
when caffeine is taken into the stomach, it travels quickly to the
brain. Once there, it does what adenosine normally does; it binds to the
adenosine nerve receptors. But, instead of slowing cellular activity, it
speeds it up. The cell can no longer bind with adenosine, because
caffeine is linked up with all its available receptors.
cell begins accelerating its activity. Because adenosine is shut out,
the brains blood vessels began to constrict (narrow).
increased neuron firing in the brain awakens the pituitary gland to
action. Some kind of emergency must be taking place! So the pituitary
signals the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (epinephrine), the
fight or flight hormone.
longer-term effects of using caffeine tend to spiral down. Once the
adrenaline wears off, you face even greater fatigue and also
depression. More caffeine is taken, and soon the body is jumping into
emergency levels all day long. You become jumpy and irritable.
the half-life of caffeine is six hours, by the time you go to bed, you
cannot get to sleep or you will not obtain the deep sleep you need. (If
the last cup of coffee was taken at 3 p.m., by 9 p.m., you will still
have 100 mg. in your body.) So the next morning you feel worse and you
need caffeine to get you out of bed.
You have started another day, beating the horse. This is why 90% of Americans consume caffeine every day. But if you try to stop, you will get terrible, splitting headaches as blood vessels in the brain dilate. So you go back to caffeine.