College Student Drinking CoffeeImages courtesy of photopin.com

When you think about the many types of addictions, one may consider alcoholism, cocaine, or heroin to be the typical cast of characters. But flying under the radar is another type of addiction that does not get the same attention – caffeine addiction.

And the age group that has become the leading offenders are high school and young adults including college students. Caffeine consumption by young people has increased dramatically over the last decade primarily through increased coffee consumption and “energy drinks.

Did you know that according to the National Coffee Association, youth under the legal drinking age are one of the fastest-growing population of coffee drinkers? According to the American Dietetic Association, when it comes to teenagers drinking caffeinated beverages, the number has tripled since the 1970’s. Has this gotten out of hand?

It has become almost commonplace to see teenagers and college students walking around school and campuses with either coffee, energy drinks, cola or other caffeinated products. Teenager’s and college students drink them to stay up or even wake up. Are they addicted to caffeine? Teenagers and college students probably don’t realize how often they are actually consuming products with caffeine. A recent survey showed that “Monster” is the most popular energy drink purchased by high school students followed by “Venom” and “Red Bull.”

Excessive Caffeine

Caffeine is generally safe for those who do not use more than 300mg, or the amount found in up to four cups of regular coffee. Anything above 400mg to 600mg is excessive!

Caffeine can cause the following physical problems:

  • Stomach upset
  • Agitation
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Muscular tremors
  • Insomnia

Source: MayoClinic

Caffeine Withdrawal

Teenagers and young adults who regularly use at least 400 mg of caffeine are subjecting themselves to addiction. Johns Hopkins Medicine warns that if you decide to stop taking any caffeine, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as achy muscles headaches, fatigue, sadness, vomiting and impaired mental focus. The effects are worse for the first two days, and then taper off completely by the ninth day. Symptoms are often avoidable by slowly weaning yourself off caffeine intake rather than stopping it abruptly, which lets the body get used to the reduced amounts.

Find out how much caffeine you are intaking

Here is a great site to check out the caffeine content in some of your favorite foods and beverages from the fine people of the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

http://www.cspinet.org/new/cafchart.htm

The bottom-line

Caffeine addiction has not by a long shot hit epidemic proportions among the youth, but it is a good idea to be aware of the amount of caffeine you are drinking and even eating on a daily basis. Because what can start as a sip of coffee can turn into a health impediment.