Caffeine Use Disorder Explained

New research outlines the drug's addictive qualities

Could you give up your daily cup?     Photo: Getty Images/Ingram Publishing

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?

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