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[Study] Caffeine Cravings — New Research Says That You Should Watch Your Intake Of This Sneaky Stimulant

caffeine, caffeine addiction, caffeine problems, caffeine use disorder, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine health, caffeine tolerance, caffeine health effects, caffeine dependency

Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. 90% of adults take advantage of it regularly, with an average intake of 200mg+ per day. Surprising? Probably not. Problematic? Researchers say yes.1

And while grabbing a cup of coffee is no crime, researchers now say that caffeine is moving from commonly used to downright abused. Recent research by psychologists at American University concluded that some people are so addicted and dependent on caffeine, that they experience serious withdrawal symptoms that can ultimately progress into Caffeine Use Disorder (CUD).23 Characteristics of CUD include anxiety, agitation, and moodiness when an individual does not receive the amounts of caffeine their body is used to. An official diagnosis comes from the following 9 symptoms:4

  • (1) A persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control caffeine use.
  • (2) Continued caffeine use despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by caffeine.
  • (3) Withdrawal.
  • (4) Caffeine is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • (5) Recurrent caffeine use resulting in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home (e.g. repeated tardiness or absences from work or school related to caffeine use or withdrawal).
  • (6) Continued caffeine use despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of caffeine (e.g.arguments with spouse about use, medical problems, cost).
  • (7) Tolerance. Either a need for increased amounts of caffeine to achieve desired effect, or a markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount of caffeine.
  • (8) A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain caffeine, use caffeine, or recover from its effects.
  • (9) Craving a strong desire or urge to use caffeine.


Authors of the study reported that 50% of regular caffeine users had trouble putting a halt to the habit, with 30% being classified as being Substance Dependent. Researchers from previous caffeine studies also note that the problem isn’t just with the consumer; health professionals have been slow to realize just how serious the risks and dependencies can be. The misconception of dependency and a lack of recognition have lead to grounds for more research and data collection.

“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.” — Laura Juliano, psychology professor at American University 

It’s tricky to know exactly how much you’ve had, especially because caffeine can be snuck into more than just beverages. Coffee, chocolate, green tea, soda, over-the-counter drugs and dietary supplements (especially pre-workouts) are all places where caffeine might be hiding, making it hard to track your true consumption. Using an app like Jawbone’s UP Coffee is a good place to start, but it’s nowhere near perfect.


Caffeinate With Caution 

caffeine, caffeine addiction, caffeine problems, caffeine use disorder, caffeine withdrawal, caffeine health, caffeine tolerance, caffeine health effects, caffeine dependency

Despite caffeine’s ability to kick-start your day and put a little pep in your step, there is such a thing as overdoing it — and it’s important to know how much is too much. Adults should not intake more than 400mg of caffeine a day, and children should be careful not to exceed more than 100mg; not to mention the precautions that those with health conditions should be aware of.5

Keep in mind that manufacturers are not held to caffeine regulations and are not required to display caffeine amounts.6 Also remember that not every cup of coffee is created equal. And if you’re worried about your own intake, check out this Caffeine Addiction Diagnosis Quiz to see how dependent you really are.7

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  1. Caffeine Use Disorder in the Journal of Caffeine Research []
  2. American University Washington DC []
  3. Steven E. Meredith, Laura M. Juliano, John R. Hughes, and Roland R. Griffiths. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Caffeine Research. September 2013, 3(3): 114-130. doi:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016. []
  4. DSM-5 Caffeine Use Disorder Research Diagnosis []
  5. Caffeine Informer-Safe Limits []
  6. American University Washington DC []
  7. Caffeine Informer []
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