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Sara Bellum

Note: This post has been updated here.

Do your parents or teachers start the day with a cup of coffee? There’s no question that coffee is a popular drink—the National Coffee Association estimates that Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee a day. It’s the caffeine in coffee that provides the energy boost that many people claim they need to function.

Caffeine has that perk-up effect because it's a stimulant. It blocks a brain chemical, adenosine, which causes sleepiness. Caffeine is found in tea leaves, coffee beans, cacao (used to make chocolate), and cola nuts (which come from the plant that gives soda its flavor). It's also found in many foods and drinks—non-cola sodas like root beer and orange soda, hot cocoa, and ice cream—and in some medicines. The latest place to find caffeine is in energy drinks.

Caffeine’s Effects—Not Totally Harmless

Caffeine is a mild stimulant and not a drug, so its use isn’t regulated like prescription drug use is. Still, consuming too much caffeine can make you feel jittery or jumpy—your heart may race and your palms may sweat. If caffeine is taken in combination with other substances, like alcohol, it can really be dangerous because mixing a stimulant and a depressant like alcohol confuses the brain.

A recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that emergency room visits for high doses of caffeine have increased sharply. The likely cause is caffeine-infused energy drinks mixed with alcohol. Those most affected? Young people between 18 and 25 years old.

So What’s a Body To Do?

Everyone needs to perk up in the middle of a long day from time to time, but a jolt of caffeine isn’t your only option. Here are a few alternatives you can try to feel energized without overdoing the caffeine:

  • Sleep. This may sound obvious, but getting enough sleep is important. Teens need 9 hours of sleep a night.
  • Eat regularly. When you don’t eat, your glucose (sugar) levels drop, making you feel drained. Some people find it helpful to eat four or five smaller meals throughout the day instead of fewer big meals.
  • Drink enough water. Since we are more than two-thirds H20, our bodies need at least 64 ounces of water a day.
  • Take a walk. If you’re feeling drained in the middle of the day, it helps to move around. Do sit-ups or jumping jacks. Go outside for a brisk walk, ride your bike.

Now we want to know: What strategies help you keep your energy up during the day?

Comments posted to the Drugs & Health Blog are from the general public and may contain inaccurate information. They do not represent the views of NIDA or any other federal government entity.


Heey yeah too much coffee is bad for ya, I read on [commercial link deleted, per guidelines] the health section some articles on caffeine its not good for the body if u take a high dose

coffee is good but to much can make u woozy

I totaly agree. caffine makes your teeth yellow and nobody should use use it. It should be illegal!

Actually, it has been scientifically proven that, consuming less than 250 mg caffeine actually healthy for you. This equals to 100ml of espresso or 200ml of filter coffee...Also, it reduces the depression risk, and it doesn't harm any of your systems.As long as you don't drink more than that... 2-3 grams of caffeine might kill you, so be careful...

Have a wonderful day.

Reference: Michel Lucas et al, Coffee, Caffeine, and Risk of Depression Among Women, ARCH INTERN MED/VOL 171 (NO. 17), SEP 26, 2011

I don't think coffee should be illegal, its just a drink, it's not doing any actual harm to the body unless you become addicted. It does make your teeth yellow, however. That's pretty much the only harm it does, well that and it does make you hyper if you have enough of it at one time. I don't drink coffee for energy, it never gives me energy. I only drink it because I like that taste.

BAD FOR U!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

yes I know

I don't drink coffee. I can't sleep and and never gave me good benefits.

I was definitely a caffeine addict in high school. I didn't really even realize it until I decided, for dental reasons, to take soda and chocolate out of my diet (well the best I could anyway! I still loved them both). Had a few days worth of very severe headaches from the withdraw! It wasn't fun at all, and I always limit my caffeine intake now.

well, we dont drink any thing like that. i feel like it makes you energetic but then like an hour later, sleepy. i drink alot of sparkling juice and im starting to be addicted to it but its really not that bad.

Caffeine doesn't even give me energy, it just makes me shaky and even more tired then before.
Caffeine is a drug just because it's legal doesn't mean it's not a drug it's like saying cough syrup isn't a drug because anyone can get it caffeine can have close health effects like illegal drugs and can even be mixed with drugs such as MDMA to make it into a pill form known as ecstasy
does coffe make you short???????

@theeguy, Nope.  That is a myth.  Neither coffee, nor caffeine, will stunt your growth.

Too much is bad for health but with in limit it is good as i think.
How does caffeine affect the brain in decision making? Does it increase Dopamine levels like Nicotine does?

@Mina, yes, caffeine increases the dopamine levels in the brain—much like other stimulants—making you feel good.  However, caffeine does not signficantly affect the brain's decision-making process.  

My experience says otherwise: my husband is addicted to caffeine, and consumes huge quantities in binges until I pressure him to stop. He does for a while, then binges again, for months at a time, and his judgment is so impaired that he does incredibly irresponsible things, makes huge costly business decision mistakes, and is so inattentive that he ran over our dog and killed her. To people like me with no children, whose pet is emotionally almost as close as a child, that's like running over your own child. I am still numb from it. Yes, caffeine DOES affect the mind's decision-making abilities!
How is caffeine not a drug? I don't understand this distinction. It's a chemical that affects the brain and causes mild withdrawal symptoms. In fact, it causes more physical withdrawal symptoms than thc, which is a "drug". Please enlighten me.

You make a good point, Elston Gunn.  Both caffeine and marijuana (THC) affect the brain.  Technically, you can say caffeine is a drug, though we don't typically label that way to avoid confusion with prescription and illicit drugs. Also, you can't really say caffeine causes more physical withdrawal symptoms than THC because every situation is different.  The level of withdrawal depends on how much of the substance someones use, how long and how often they've used it, and their specific bio-chemical make-up.

"Sara Bellum"? Really? Like the part of the brain?