Caffeine

Every day, approximately 300 tonnes of caffeine are used in some form or another – the equivalent of a cup of coffee for the entire world’s population. The vast quantity to which it is consumed globally is even more surprising given that the most enthusiastic coffee drinkers have to import 100% of it – since coffee beans only grow between the tropics, there is a very select group of countries that can produce the stuff. At the same time, of all the coffee producing countries, only one (Brazil) breaks the top 50 in terms of caffeine intake, which suggests that it is mainly the West –America, Europe, and Oceania – that drink coffee. It comes as no shock, then, that so many people are dependent on it.

And it isn’t some self-perceived, psychological dependence either. Studies have shown that there is a legitimate, physiological withdrawal process that occurs if you don’t get your caffeine hit on time. Drinkers who consume more than 100mg of caffeine per day (roughly the equivalent of either a RedBull or a cup of coffee) very quickly gain a physical addiction. If left unsatisfied, it can lead to “headaches, muscle pain and stiffness, lethargy, nausea, vomiting, depressed mood, and marked irritability”. These symptoms become more potent the longer you have regularly drunk coffee, as tolerance to caffeine stacks rather quickly. With this in mind, one would wonder why there is little aversion to the stimulant.

Nevertheless, there is little aversion to the stimulant because there is no a reason to ever stop drinking it in the first place. Drinking coffee releases dopamine in the brain, a neurotransmitter that not only ends the withdrawal-induced headache, but has additionally been linked to increased levels of happiness and pleasure. It also does a myriad of other things, such as increasing brain function and memory consolidation, easing depression and decreasing fatigue. Furthermore, regular users of caffeine are able to reap several long-term benefits that are highly desirable. There is evidence that indicates that coffee drinkers are at a lower risk of a host of cardiovascular, diabetic and degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Although Australia is not the highest on the coffee consumption scale, there is still a considerable market for caffeine products in Australia, particularly coffee. All in all, this is one drug addiction that is worth the trade-off. Although you can enjoy that cup of coffee with a sound mind, be aware that there are some ramifications to drinking it.