Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Dangers of Caffeine

Caffeine is an addictive drug. It operates using the same mechanisms that the amphetamines, cocaine and heroin use to stimulate your brain. Caffeine's effects are milder than amphetamines, cocaine and heroin, but it is manipulating the same channels and that is what gives caffeine its addictive qualities. If you feel like you cannot function without it and must consume it every day, then you are addicted to caffeine.

I thought I'd enlighten further on my caffeine addiction, and the problems this poses. I'm going through a recent coke paranoia, especially after seeing this referred to as 'substance abuse' by a particular website. Jesus. I can't give it up. I've tried everything -- slowly abandoning coke for cranberry juice, OK not quite everything, but damn it. I don't wanna give it up. I'm addicted.

My paranoia led me to an online quiz, titled 'Are you addicted to caffeine?'. These are the questions:

  • Do you consume more than two cups of coffee, tea or cola or chocolate in a day?
  • Do you feel fatigued on and off during the day?
  • Do you go through massive emotional mood swings during the day?
  • Do you suffer from frequent headaches?
  • Do you suffer from constipation or are you dependent on tea or coffee in the morning for clearing your bowels?
  • Do you suffer from acidity or heartburn?
  • Do you feel a generalized pain in the neck, shoulders and back region and a sensation of discomfort in the legs, hands and stomach?
  • Do you suffer from a burning sensation, fatigue and heaviness in the eyes?
  • Do you have difficulty in going to sleep?
  • Do you wake up in the morning feeling dead tired?
  • Are you easily irritable?
  • Do you suffer from irregular or rapid heartbeats?
  • Do you often feel dizzy?
  • Do you have high blood pressure problems apart from anxiety problems?
  • Do you have ulcers?
  • Do you have problems concentrating without your regular cup of coffee?
  • Do your hands tremor?
  • Do you feel dehydrated?

10 of them apply to me. This is the result:

If 10 to 12 of the questions have a positive answer, its time to sit up and listen to your body signals. Caffeine can cause serious damage to your health. Wean yourself of the habit slowly and steadily, preferably with the help of the dietician.

Not good. I sure as hell am not going to a dietician as a result of an online quiz, but I will need to cut down. I have to be vigilant about this... it's the only way. It's going to be tough, I know, but what needs to be done needs to be done. No point in being hesitant. I must be decisive. So this is what's to come I guess...

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can vary from mild changes in mood to systemic, flu-like symptoms. The research team identified five major types of caffeine withdrawal reactions:

  • headache, fatigue or drowsiness
  • dysphoric mood including depression and irritability
  • difficulty concentrating
  • flu-like symptoms of nausea, vomiting
  • muscle pain or stiffness

Wish me luck. Somebody?

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