H2H: Caffeine: Is it really worth it?

November 26, 2019

Caffeine can help keep students awake and alert, but with it comes dependence and insomnia. All in all, is caffeine more beneficial or harmful?

Caffeine: the truth and why you should slow down your habit

Caffeine. The drug that over 90 percent of Americans consume everyday. The drug seems to be safe, until one takes a closer look at the real outcomes. Caffeine is medically an addictive drug, as the Food and Drug Administration states due to the stimulants in the central nervous system, caffeine can cause physical and mild mental dependence and the “need” for the drug. In students’ lives at Northwest, this effect can take hold much more quickly and cause their grades to suffer. 

“When I was younger, my doctor told me it was healthier to drink water since my body reacted really weirdly to caffeine,” junior Skye Handley said, “I had to just start drinking strictly water.”

When young adults are consuming coffee, energy drinks, or any other version of high caffeine-content drinks, there are obvious health risks. Increased heart rate, physical and mental dependence, and even a road to insomnia developing without the constant use of it when one becomes hooked. 

“I think it can be almost debilitating sometimes because people start relying so heavily on it (caffeine) to even be able to wake up,” Handley said.

I think it can be almost debilitating sometimes because people start relying so heavily on it (caffeine) to even be able to wake up,”

— Skye Handley

It is impossible to know whether the amount of coffee one drinks is safe or not, because the at-risk levels of caffeine intake are impossible to measure with simple kitchen instruments. Recently, a 14-year-old with a minor pre existing heart condition died after consuming just two Five Hour Energy beverages.

“The difference between a safe amount and a toxic dose of caffeine in these pure powdered products is very small,” the FDA said.

Recently, hospitals have experience a higher amount of patient admittance based on caffeine overdoses. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of these were children under the age of 18. Many people believe caffeine to be safe, yet it has very harmful effects on the heart and brain, especially while one is still developing. 

While it may sound far fetched to most people because they don’t think of caffeine in any other way, one must consider the fact that “caffeine withdrawal” has been officially added to the list of psychological disorders by medical professionals and psychologists. 

“I think since caffeine really is considered a drug, people become easily addicted to it; they rely on it too much,” Handley said. 

Ultimately, whether it be from addiction to withdrawal, heart disease to hospital admittance, or even death, caffeine is really not all it’s cracked up to be. Consume everything in moderation, especially when it has been proven to be a harmful drug. There is no benefit in bragging about how many cups of coffee or how many energy drinks one has had when it can, in reality, have truly harmful effects on one’s health.

“I just don’t think caffeine is the greatest thing in the world,” Handley said, “there are healthier options such as water and juices that can be better for you mentally and physically in the long run.”


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Caffeine helps people with their daily lives

Caffeine is a staple of today’s life. People take it in many forms, like the well known coffee tea soda, and energy drinks, but there are also newer, innovative ways to take it, like a caffeine-infused bracelet or energy mints. 

“I don’t have caffeine on a regular basis, but the drinks that I have are highly caffeinated,” freshman Tori Bissram said. 

We get around around a thousand (customers) to ten or three a day (at the new building coffee stand).”

— Kelsey Cheney

Caffeine gives you quick and easy energy. It is a nervous system stimulant. It binds to the receptors for adenosine, which makes you sleepy, and tricks the brain that the receptors are latched to adenosine instead of caffeine, without the effect of making you tired.

“(Caffeine) definitely helps as a student,” freshman Sophia Sizer said. “If it’s in moderation throughout the day, I can go a full school day awake without shakes or anything like that.”

People often take caffeine as a routine as well, sometimes in the morning or throughout a day. A 2017 report showed that 37 percent of teens drank coffee at least once a day. 

“I drink coffee in the morning,” art teacher Beth Herrick said. “Then I drink hot tea for the rest of the day.” 

Caffeine is not addictive, contrary to popular myths. If taken regularly, caffeine can lead to mild physical dependence. However, because of its lack of severity compared to alcohol and drugs, experts do not consider it addictive. 

“There are some mornings where I don’t have coffee and it doesn’t really affect my day at all, I could probably go without it,” Herrick said. “Mostly it’s habit.”

In fact, some studies show that coffee has a positive effect on the body. A study from 2013 shows that three to five cups of coffee a day lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. Another study from 2007 showed that coffee reduced the risk of liver cancer by 40 percent, and other studies show that this may hold true to some degree for other cancers.

Caffeine can be dangerous if taken in excess, but so can water. Everything in moderation.

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