Are you addicted?

Today we’re talking caffeine dependence..

Too many people swear that they cannot live or function without that morning cup of coffee. Are you one of them? We see all the memes and hear all the jokes, but is it truly an addiction? Or just a dependence we have taught ourselves?

The National Institute of Drug Abuse defines addiction as the “uncontrolled use of a substance even when it causes negative consequences for the person using it”. Yes, caffeine does increase dopamine in the brain. However it doesn’t affect the reward circuits in the brain the way that drugs do. Of course, there are some withdrawal symptoms when you miss that morning cup of joe. But it doesn’t create destructive behavior – at least it shouldn’t unless you really aren’t a morning person!

That is why your morning cup of coffee is not an addiction but rather a dependency you have created through your habits.

This dependency can be a bad thing. If you are the type of person who finds that you need to keep filing up on coffee through the day to keep you awake and functioning. The dopamine that is released is what makes you feel alert. And of course, just like a sugar high, our body knows what to do to bring this back down to normal levels. The body uses adenosine to do this, and as a result the body releases more adrenaline. Yet again, another hormone gets produced in this balancing act. Cortisol gets released and this whole cycle can make losing weight, feeling awake and losing water retention all the more difficult.

Symptoms you may have that can indicate that the above is happening are:

Sleep problems,

Needing constant stimulants (energy drinks anyone?),

Feeling run down and irritable,

Anxiety and depression as well as

Acid reflux issues

Remember this can be as a result of being caffeine dependent, not addicted to caffeine. Meaning it could be a case of just changing your habits if you’re suffering!

Not everyone is in this cycle though, so do not despair!

The goal is to always listen to your body and to know when things like this are out of whack. You also do not have to go cold turkey. This could create its own withdrawal symptoms like drowsiness, brain fog and inability to concentrate. Try to focus on just decreasing use slowly or possibly using alternatives. Like superfood lattes or chicory blends, just make sure you’re not replacing with other bad habits.

I personally prefer organic coffee and avoid decaf as it just contain more chemicals!

What could the benefits be then? If you don’t feel any symptoms and could use the happy dopamine hit coffee gives you (according to latest research):

  • Caffeine can increase memory
  • It can relieve post workout muscle pain
  • Coupled with carbs it can help replenish muscle glycogen faster
  • Can stimulate hair growth
  • Increases stamina during exercise (which is why it is regularly found in pre-workout supplements)
  • Improves reaction time

And those are just the ones that may be most appropriate to this following!

Tell me, do you struggle with/love your caffeine dependence? I’d love to hear your views



Isilda Da Costa is a personal trainer and women’s fitness specialist who, if she isn’t at the gym training, is busy researching the most up to date information for growing those muscles. She has combined her love of everything healthy by being a health coach in her own health shop in Swaziland. Follow along on @izzy.healthandfitness

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