Caffeine is a natural, central nervous system stimulant. It is often easy to over-consume caffeine because it is present in coffee, black and green tea, cocoa, cola soft drinks, energy drinks, chocolate bars, energy bars, some non-prescription medications (e.g., cough syrup, weight loss tablets, etc.), and more. Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world, and in America more than 90% of adults use it regularly. An article published in Psychopharmacology asserts that in adults, small doses of caffeine can increase information processing speed, awareness, attention, and reaction time as well as enhance one’s alertness and mood. This can be attributed to the fact that, according to Tufts University, “caffeine blocks specific receptors in the brain that mediate critical functions like sleep, arousal, cognition, memory, and learning. When these receptors are operating as usual, it slows brain activity, causing sleepiness or drowsiness.” Caffeine stimulates the brain by blocking the effects of adenosine and releasing dopamine (a neurotransmitter that carries signals between brain cells) to areas of the brain that reign pleasure, affecting nerve centers that are responsible for neurological reward systems. Studies suggest that dopamine release may be a specific neuropharmacological mechanism underlying the addictive potential of caffeine. Although caffeine addiction is not a formally recognized condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) like alcohol use disorder, regular caffeine use is known to cause mild physical dependence.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant that works by slowing down and causing changes in the complex functions of the human brain and body. As is explained by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), “Alcohol interferes with the brain’s communication pathways, and can affect the way the brain looks and works.” Alcohol inhibits the major excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamate, and is believed to mimic GABA’s effect in the brain by binding to GABA receptors and inhibiting neuronal signaling. Studies have shown that alcohol increases the level of dopamine in the brain’s reward system by as much as 360%. Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that associates with the brain’s reward center, increasing feelings of pleasure and reducing one’s perception of pain. It is a feel-good neurotransmitter that is also involved in reinforcement. The pleasurable sensations produced by alcohol contribute to the reason why once people start drinking, they often want to carry on. According to National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS), one 1 of every 12 adults in America struggle with alcohol abuse or dependency issues.
For Information and Support
If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding substance abuse and/ or addiction, we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. If left untreated, substance abuse can result in long lasting and potentially life-threatening consequences. Keep in mind: you are not alone! There is an entire network of professionals that are available to help and support you and your loved one throughout the recovery process. The earlier you seek support, the sooner your loved one can return to a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions regarding our specific program at Haven House Addiction Treatment and/ or general substance abuse and/ or addiction treatment related information. Our highly trained staff is readily available to discuss how we might best be able to help you and your loved one. We can be reached by phone at 424-258-6792. You are also welcomed to contact anytime us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.