Can People Be Addicted To Caffeine?


Coffee is a staple of many people's mornings and some even claim to be addicted to the drink, ingesting more than the standard number of cups per day.

But is it possible for excessive amounts of coffee to have the same effects as alcohol intoxication?

Man Charged With DUI Because Of Caffeine?

This question is especially relevant in a recently dropped DUI charge in Solano County in California. The 38-year-old Joseph Schwab fought the charges for almost a year. His arresting officers believed that he was under the influence of a combination of substances.

After stopping Schwab, who was allegedly driving erratically, the officers claimed that the driver was exhibiting the demeanor of one who was under the influence. He was described as highly agitated and that his pupils were dilated. It didn't help either that Schwab failed to pass standard sobriety tests, hence leading to the DUI charge.

The defendant claimed that he was neither intoxicated nor under the influence of drugs, and the toxicology report proved this claim, finding only one stimulating substance in his system: caffeine.

The charges were dropped more than a year later, but Schwab will still face charges of reckless driving. The question remains: can people be addicted to caffeine?

The Science Of Caffeine: How Caffeine Affects The Human Body

Johns Hopkins defines caffeine as "the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world," and its effects can be seen as fast as 15 minutes after ingestion depending on the amount of caffeine intake.

Low intake of caffeine (20 to 200 milligrams) can lead to positive results such as heightened alertness, happiness, and sociability to name a few. However, any intake in excess of 200 mg of caffeine can lead to more negative effects on the body, including moodiness, jitters, anxiety, or even panic attacks. Prolonged abuse of the substance can even lead to caffeine dependence, addiction, or even caffeine intoxication in cases of excessive intake.

Does This Mean People Can Be Addicted To Caffeine?

Yes and no. It is possible for individuals to be highly dependent on caffeine, and many even experience negative withdrawal symptoms that appear 12 to 14 hours after limiting the body's caffeine intake. Symptoms of this include fatigue, difficulty working, depression, and anxiety, as well as impairment in psychomotor and cognitive processes to name a few. However, it is important to note that symptoms can vary from person to person, and individuals carry different levels of tolerance to different substances.

In the case of caffeine, it is also possible that excessive intake could lead to the development of symptoms similar to addiction and intoxication, as seen in the case of Joseph Schwab. As with most physiologically affective substances, moderation is the key when it comes to maximizing the positive effects and minimizing the negative.

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