Caffeine as a Stimulant and Addiction – What Effect Does It Actually Have On Your Mind + Body?

coffee stimulant drug addiction

Ahh, that first cup of coffee in the morning… Or that second cup with your breakfast. And the 3rd one just after lunch, oh and 4th one to keep you going through the meeting… 

Before you know it you’ve had 4 cups of coffee at work, and a 5th one when you get home because you know, you’re tired and need a caffeine boost. 

Caffeine is a stimulant, which helps to keep us awake and alert. It wakes our nervous system and brain, making us alert and ready for more action when we’re ready to give up. 

I love a good cup of coffee, although I limit myself to a maximum of 2 a day. Some days I won’t even have one cup, it all depends on the day. 

As I live in the UK and the skies are normally grey and we hardly ever see the sun, that makes me sleepy and thus me, in need of caffeine. 

Ever thought about the coffee adverts? 

It’s a whole, glamourised culture of drinking. It’s an activity, a hobby, and something you need to buy expensive equipment for. 

Once again, we’re being told to buy stuff – this product being a little different as we get addicted to coffee due to the caffeine in it. Our body craves it the more we drink it. 

The more we crave it, the more we drink it, the more of it we buy. Along with the fancy espresso machines…

Where Can We Find Caffeine?

As you may have already figured our, there is caffeine in coffee. No surprise there. 

There is also caffeine in cola drinks, energy drinks, chocolate, black tea and green tea

Caffeine comes from nature – coffee plants, which are turned into dried, roasted beans and then grounded for coffee. 

In theory then, anything that comes from nature should be good for us, right? As you may have already noticed from this website, I love natural things! Mama nature provides and we must respect the offerings. 

However, coffee beans are addictive, which means they are a drug and a stimulant to our mind and body. 

is caffeine a stimulant drug addictive

What Is a Stimulant?

A stimulant is a food, drink or drug, that provides an energy boost with short term feel-good effects, raising our alertness. It releases happy hormones (dopamine), wakes us up, makes us feel refreshed and ready to go, like we could take over the world, for about 5-10 minutes… Then as the stimulant’s effects on our nervous system and brain wear off, it’s common to experience fatigue, anxiety, irritability and even headaches. 

Caffeine is one example of a stimulant – it stimulates our brain and nervous system, making us more alert by increasing the activity of those 2 systems in our body. 

Despite the side effects, we are all very much dependent on caffeine. It provides the boost we need in this modern world. 

Parents with a baby and no sleep? Caffeine. 

Busy job and a thousand meetings to get to? Caffeine. 

Gym after work but no energy? Caffeine. 

Long day ahead after a night of no sleep due to stress? Caffeine. 

Caffeine is the answer to our modern day tiredness and lack of time. Because of it, we feel the need to do things quickly, and with lack of energy, caffeine seems to be our only saviour these days. 

Is Caffeine a Drug?

Yes, as caffeine is a stimulant that makes it a drug which means it’s easy to get addicted to it. Your body gets used to a certain amount of caffeine, building tolerance for it. As a result you feel the need to increase the amounts of caffeine you drink, just to feel the effect. The more of it you drink, the more you’ll need to increase your daily dose of caffeine. 

Just like heroin or other recreational drugs, the more we take, the more we need. 

There are many variations of coffee, different flavours, countries of origin, espressos, lattes, cappuccinos etc etc… 

To keep us on our toes, we see adverts everywhere reminding us to drink more coffee, to try a new coffee drink and to buy a new coffee machine. 

It’s easy to get addicted to it, particularly as it becomes a part of your daily routine. 

caffeine as addictive drug stimulant

First thing in the morning, a lunch-time coffee and cake break – Sweden have a word for coffee and cake break, it’s called a fika

It’s actually one of my favourite mid-day things on my day off – sitting in a coffee shop or at home, with a coffee and a cake. Nothing says relax like a fika. 

Except that after it I feel less relaxed and more pumped up for more action. 

I should really just switch to napping or yoga

Can Stimulants Cause Palpitations

Caffeine as a stimulant, increases our blood pressure and heart rate, which in turn yes, can cause palpitations and an irregular heartbeat in low levels. You would have to drink about 90 cups of coffee in a day to do serious damage to your heartbeat and cause serious palpitations. As long as coffee is consumed in moderation, and although heart palpitations can be common after a caffeine boost, they are not dangerous. Assuming that you have no previous or developing heart conditions. If you are experiencing heart problems or have had heart issues in the past, you may want to speak with a doctor to get professional advice. 

What Stimulant is In Coffee

The stimulant found in coffee is caffeine – a component that provides a rush of energy. Caffeine is found in cocoa-beans, kola nuts, tea leaves and coffee beans. 

How Much Caffeine is in Coffee

In an average cup of coffee, there is around 94 mg of caffeine. Energy drinks will typically contain a LOT more caffeine than a simple cup of coffee. On average, an energy drink contains between 40mg and 250 mg per cup, or per 230ml. Which is a generous amount and it’s no wonder that energy drinks are banned for children who certainly don’t need an energy rush! 

is caffeine a stimulant drug addictive

Caffeine Withdrawal 

As you become addicted to caffeine, your body craves it, it’s used to having it in the system and needs a daily dose. Just like drugs, quitting caffeine can cause withdrawal symptoms

As it’s a stimulant and a drug, your body must go through the process of readjusting and getting used to not having this caffeine in the body anymore. As a result, if you quit drinking coffee you may experience: 

  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Anxiety
  • Problems concentrating
  • Depressive mood
  • Irritability/agitation 
  • Tremors
  • Low energy

What Does Caffeine Do to Our Body / How Does Caffeine Work?

When caffeine enters our system, it blocks adenosine receptors (brain chemicals) that send signals from our brain to body, that we are tired. When that chemical is blocked, it is still in our body stored, and released later when the caffeine effects wear off. 

This is why it’s common for us to feel tried after a coffee, because the caffeine wears off but the adenosine receptors remind us that we were (and still are) tired. 

All coffee does is blocks the signals from adenosine receptors – it’s kind of like brushing your problems under the rug. 

They may be gone for a few minutes/hours, but you’ll still end up tripping over that pile under the rug. 

Caffeine and Anxiety 

Short term effect of caffeine is the pleasant bit – you feel good, energised and ready to go. After the first effects of caffeine wear off however, we can start to feel anxious and irritable (I can testify to that! Despite the effects I still insist on drinking coffee…) 

If you’re someone who is prone to anxiety anyway, the advice would be to not drink caffeine as caffeine can increase the effects of anxiety, making you even more on edge and nervous. 

In high doses, if you suffer with anxiety, the addition of caffeine can even cause anxiety or panic attacks. 

caffeine as drug addictive stimulant

Caffeine Alternatives 

If I’ve put you off caffeine – I’m sorry! There are alternatives however if you’d like to try something different and ditch the jittery and anxious effects of coffee. My favourite alternatives to coffee are: 

  • Vitamin C dissolvable (drinkable)
  • Chai Tea
  • Matcha Tea 
  • Golden Milk 
  • A banana

I prepared (just for you 😉 ) a list of my favourite brands and caffeine-free alternatives here

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