Ben Frantz Dale, Espresso roasted coffee beans. Image courtesy of Wikimedia
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND– I was walking through Baltimore Street in Baltimore when I came across an advertisement informing people who are addicted to caffeine and are “seeking help to quite or reduce caffeine,” to come to John Hopkins where they my “be eligible to receive caffeine treatment.” Beside the text of the public announcement is a cup of coffee. As I continued my walk down St Paul Street, I remembered Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt was an ardent coffee drinker. During his period as the president of the United States, Roosevelt had a huge cup from which he drank coffee. So big was the cup that one of his sons described it as a “bathtub.” Many of those who knew Roosevelt when he was at Harvard believed that drinking coffee was what made him boisterous and energetic. Roosevelt propensity for drinking large cups of coffee as a an adult seem a reflection of his childhood experience. As a child, Roosevelt’s parents gave him coffee to help curb his asthma. Evidently, this led to his love for it as an adult.
As I crossed Pratt Street, I could not stop thinking about what it means to be addicted to caffeine. As a coffee drinker, I continually asked myself: “Am I a caffeine addict? Besides the fact that I drink a lot coffee, I am also often overtaking by the aroma of great coffee. Once I was walking through the White Marsh Mall with a friend when I bellowed “that is the sweet smell of coffee,” as the aroma of brewing coffee filled my nostrils. “You are a coffee addict,” my friend said. Am I really an addict? As I pondered the question, I thought I should ask a few people about what it means to be a caffeine addict and why people drink so much coffee. Is it just because of the caffeine? Is drinking too much coffee specific to a group of professionals or people engaged in specific works of life? Here are some the few responses that you will find interesting.
Do you know those who drink coffee and are addicted to caffeine? They are teachers, writers and journalists. They are always drinking coffee just to catch up with the demands of their work. Not drinking coffee, for these groups of professionals, will make work impossible. In a recent study conducted by Pressat, a UK blog, it was discovered that out of the 10,000 professional that participated, journalist and others who work in the media are the largest consumers of coffee. This is followed by police officers and teachers. If you ask these groups of professionals, especially journalists, teachers and police officer if they are addicted to caffeine, they will tell you that they are not. The simple reason is that they do not think they are. While they are quick to acknowledge that they drink a lot of coffee, they are reluctant to accept that they are addicted to caffeine. So, how do you get someone who does not accept that he/she is addicted to caffeine to seek treatment? Even I don’t know the answer to that question.
I am not sure why anyone will have the notion that people are addicted to coffee or caffeine. I drink a lot of it but that does not mean that I am a caffeine addict. It simply means that I love it. Although I drink about 4 to five cups a day, I am not addicted to caffeine. I just simply means that I love it!
I think it is fantastic that there is help out there for people who are addicted to caffeine. As you know, this is all about men. Women do not drink as much coffee as men. Every morning when I drive by the Starbucks near my work, I see a long line of people waiting to get their morning fixes. The interesting thing is that when I walk back in the afternoon to get lunch, I still see some of the same people I saw in the morning on the line waiting to get their fix. I am not sure how many cups you have to drink in a day to be categorized as a caffeine addict, but I can tell you that people drink too much coffee in this town. Don’t get me wrong, I drink coffee and I love it, but I don’t go overboard with. Two cups a day is all I need.
I am a coffee drinker and I am proud of it. The problem with many of us who love it is that we do not know when to stop drinking. There are people who drink almost ten cups everyday: Morning, afternoon and night. I think those who drink more than ten cups a day must be considered caffeine addicts. That is just too much!!!
If you are specifically talking about coffee, I think it should not be an issue that people drink too much of it. The manufacturers have developed convincing ways to get people hooked on different brands and flavors. There is Affogato, Americano, Caffé Latte, Caffé macchiato, Cafe mocha, Cappuccino, Americano, Espresso, Frappuccino, Frappuccino and Iced Coffee just to name a few. When I go to 7- Eleven or Starbucks, for instance, I am often uncertain which flavor or brand to buy. Although I have my regulars which are Frappuccino and Energy Coffee, there are days I want a change. Making a decision is always difficult because there are too many choices. I love the pumpkin spice, though. It is fantastic.
Every time I talk to coffee drinkers about caffeine addiction, I am always astonished about the denial. Go to Dunkin Donut, Starbucks, 7-Eleven and all those other places where they sell coffee and you will see what I mean. There is always a long line of people waiting to dish out big sums just for a cup of coffee. In a month, some people spend more than 200 dollars. That money can be put to better use if they can find alternatives that are cheap and have long lasting effect. Since what drives people to coffee is the caffeine, they can look for other ways to deal with their caffeine needs without spending so much money. They can get their caffeine fix through natural sources that keep them from going over and over again to Starbucks or Dunkin Donut and 7-Eleven. Sadly, for some of these caffeine addicts, the lust for caffeine does not stop with coffee. Many are now turning to energy drinks with high caffeine level. That is when they get in trouble.
I don’t know how to answer your question except to say that caffeine is like any other addictive drug. The more coffee you drink, the more you want. It is the same thing with smokers. They start by smoking one stick of cigarette a day, and before you know it, they are smoking more than a packet of cigarette a day just to fulfill the increasing need for nicotine in their system. It is the same with caffeine: It states gradually, and in a matter of time, people are drinking 5 to 10 cups to meet their caffeine needs. That is when they become caffeine addicts.
You see, the issue is not about those who loves coffee, but those who take drinking it to the extreme. Sometimes, people just don’t know when to stop. They drink coffee as if they are drinking water. Like everything else, moderation is the keyword. One or two cups a day should be enough for anyone who loves it. But there are people who go to the extreme by falling into the taste trap set for us by manufactures who have perfected ways of inciting our pallets. There is also the advertisement by companies like Starbucks, Dunkin Donut, 7- Eleven and many others. Everywhere you turn, there are commercials encouraging you that you to drink some more. The images on these commercials are so luscious that even if you are not a coffee drinker, you are tempted to grab a cup.
You are not the only one who has shown interest in this issue. The problem is that whenever people talk about caffeine addiction, they tend to forget that coffee has great benefits. Beyond the zing many get, the health benefits derived from cffee are some of the reasons people drink it. Research have shown that coffee, can help prevent type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia. It also contains antioxidant that is good for the system. There are also other substances that make coffee desirable. Of course, this is not to say that some people do not abuse it. There are people who drink more than ten cups a day. That is absolute too much!! This is why the issue of caffeine addiction has become a major topic. It is just like drinking red wine. Just because the doctor says drinking red wine is good for you does not mean you have to drink ten bottles of red wine. That will be crazy!
It is frightening that there are now peanut butter with caffeine in them. This is absolutely dangerous. People will drink coffee, and get hyped on caffeine. Then, they are going to start eating peanut with caffeine. When are we going to stop? People are going to die from too much caffeine. Do the manufacturers of peanut butter with caffeine even think about the impact this will have on children? Can you imagine kids getting a hold of this so called peanut butter with caffeine? Not good. Not good.