If you drink multiple sodas or cups of coffee during the day and don’t feel alert without it, it might be time to rethink your relationship with caffeine.
Eight out of 10 adults in the United States are habitual daily coffee drinkers, according to the Food and Drug Administration. In addition to coffee and sodas, caffeine can be found in some teas, chocolate and even our medicines.
Ron Cotterel, M.D., M.S., a family medicine and integrative family physician with Sutter Medical Foundation, says caffeine is the No. 1 stimulant of choice around the globe, and one of the most commonly abused addictive substances available. It changes the way we behave and feel, even improving the effects of some pain relievers, which makes it a powerful substance.
“Caffeine can be found in numerous nonprescription medications including NoDoz, Excedrin, Anacin, Vanquish and Bromo-Seltzer,” Dr. Cotterel says. “It’s an alkaloid, a member of a family of thousands of naturally occurring chemicals including quinine, nicotine, morphine, codeine, methamphetamine, ephedrine and mescaline.”
Caffeine’s addictive qualities make it difficult to quit. When we use caffeine every day, our bodies become accustomed to it and need more to achieve the same feeling of alertness. This can lead to a physical dependence on caffeine.