Are you over-caffeinated?

Nine o’clock cup one. Ten o’clock cup two. Eleven o’clock cup three. Lunch. Hesitation when you voluntarily chose to drink something other than coffee. Two o’clock regret, dreadful, dreadful regret. As you begin to crash, you realize you probably should have gone for that fourth cup during lunch instead of the “healthy” green juice and water you grabbed in an attempt to seem like a healthy individual to your new co-worker who was bad eyeing you from the corner couch in the break room. So now its three o’clock, you are struggling to keep your eyelids from gluing shut before your computer screen and a cup of coffee seems to be the only solution. You resist. Five minutes go by but you can’t take it, you cave in. You head over to the break room just to realize someone left the coffee maker on and the remaining coffee burned onto the pot. Great. Four o’clock, caffeine… caffeine… caffeine! Like a child your brain throws a tantrum for you to feed it more coffee. But you stay strong and resist. Five o’clock, you’re free! Finally, it’s time to go home, and check out that new Starbucks drive-thru they built down the street.

Office workers and coffee, the unbreakable duo. It is a world renowned phenomenon that drinking coffee and working in an office go hand in hand. Except for the few who “don’t like” coffee, it is fair to say most office workers start their day with a warm cup of coffee. Many will even wake up five to thirty minutes earlier to be able to make a stop at Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee and Tea and pick up a cup. The rest of us feel okay settling for the famous fresh office coffee pot brew. Whether it be for its taste or to stay awake, people can’t seem to get their hands off the coffee pot. Like some drink their sorrows away, employees chug cup after cup of coffee. Maybe they attempt to drink their work load away, or potentially to reach the point where caffeine makes work not feel like work, the way you believed your job was fun the first year you started working. Everyone drinks it. It’s become such a commonality today you can purchase coffee almost everywhere. But let’s get to the real deal here. The truth is, people are indulging in coffee to the point where some become addicted.

Every day in America, 587 million cups of coffee are consumed, that is an estimated three cups per worker every day. Although no negative health issues have been tied to the drink, addiction to caffeine has been proven and was actually just recently added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). Unlike addiction to other drugs, caffeine addiction works a little differently. In this case, caffeine mimics adenosine, a natural chemical component found in the human brain in charge of making a person feel tired. Once caffeine binds to the adenosine receptors, it doesn’t let adenosine bind to the receptors but doesn’t stop its production either, which causes an overflow of adenosine in the brain. The overflow triggers adrenaline to be secreted which is why many people feel more awake and alert. This effect lasts four to six hours. After the caffeine begins to be metabolized, the abundance of adenosine is finally able to bind to its receptors again which is why many people feel a “crash” and re-caffeinate initiating the cycle again. After a while of ritualistic caffeine consumption, your brain chemistry begins to change. More receptors are developed to be able to bind to the adenosine which is why some people develop a high tolerance and need more caffeine to do the job. Although many doctors will say three cups of coffee is an okay amount to be consumed by a healthy adult, in the end it really comes down to the person consuming it to know their limit and decide if they will continue to feed their addiction, about one thousand dollars a year or twenty to thirty dollars a week on coffee, or kick it to the curb.