Caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world and many people are dependent on it to the point that they suffer withdrawal symptoms, according to new research.
The study by American University psychology professor Laura Juliano and colleagues indicates that some people suffer are unable to reduce caffeine consumption even if they have another condition that may be impacted by caffeine – such as a pregnancy, a heart condition, or a bleeding disorder.
These symptoms combined are a condition called “Caffeine Use Disorder,” researchers said. According to the study, even though caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world – and is found in everything from coffee, tea, and soda, to pain relievers, chocolate, and host of food and beverage products – health professionals have been slow to characterise problematic caffeine use and acknowledge that some cases may call for treatment.
“The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognised as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines,” Juliano said. “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,” said Juliano.
Based on current research, Juliano advises that healthy adults should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 400 mg per day the equivalent of about two to three cups of coffee. Pregnant women should consume less than 200 mg per day and people who regularly experience anxiety or insomnia – as well as those with high blood pressure, heart problems, or urinary incontinence – should also limit caffeine, he said. The study was published in the Journal of Caffeine Research.