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Caffeine Use Disorder Explained

New research outlines the drug's addictive qualities

Scientists recently found that caffeine enhances memory, but don't take that as a full-fledged endorsement. A new study outlines symptoms of a condition known as "caffeine use disorder": the inability to give up caffeine even if patients have conditions the drug would negatively affect, including pregnancy or a heart condition.

Last spring, this addictive characteristic landed the disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a guide for classifying mental illnesses that's used by mental health professionals across the country. The APA noted the need for additional research of this condition.

"There is a misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up," said Laura Juliano, an American University psychology professor and coauthor of the study. "However, in population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use."

According to current research, Juliano says healthy adults should curb caffeine consumption at 400 milligrams per day—that's about two small coffees—but patients suffering from other conditions that caffeine could aggravate should limit their intake to about half that amount.

So, would you like cream and sugar with that?


Meanwhile, an unusually strong winter storm has ravaged the southern United States, stranding commuters, closing schools, and blowing semi trucks right off the road. States of emergency were declared in Alabama, North Carolina, Louisiana, and South Carolina as early as Monday in preparation for the winter conditions, but few were prepared for the near-total paralysis of major urban areas.

The weather has forced more than 3,400 commercial flights in the region to be canceled and another 2,000 to be delayed.

Atlanta in particular has turned into a traffic nightmare, with some commuters stuck on the road as long as 19 hours. Weary travelers even took to spending the night in grocery stores and pharmacies.

There have also been reports of hundreds of stranded students spending the night in libraries and gymnasiums, unable to return home.

In Texas, more than 300 traffic accidents have been reported since the storm began. In the city of Austin, police chief Art Acevedo says they are dealing with about 40 accidents every hour.

Although this may seem like an inordinate amount of chaos for just a few inches of snow, most people in the region are unaccustomed to driving in such conditions, and many cities lack the infrastructure to deal with even infrequent winter storms.