What are some of the symptoms and effects of caffeine use?
Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant drug that, when taken in excessive amounts, can certainly cause difficulties for the individual using it. High levels of caffeine use lead to intoxication, sometimes known as caffeinism, which involves symptoms of restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, excitement, flushed face, gastrointestinal problems, and diuresis (excessive urination) in comparison to low doses. One of the most commonly affirmed symptoms of caffeine is the tendency to delay onset of sleep and the reduction of quality of sleep that comes following its use. Many individuals certainly report that, as they age, they are unable to continue to drink caffeinated beverages into the late afternoon or early evening because of the disruption in their sleep patterns that will result.
Typically, users report a feeling of mental alertness and lack of fatigue after ingesting caffeine. Most individuals will report that they feel they are able to work more effectively and for longer periods of time, for example, after their morning cup of coffee. However, research examining the behavioral performance of individuals taking caffeine is mixed with regard to human performance. Caffeine use seems to help when individuals are faced with mundane and boring tasks by keeping their attentiveness high and their response time fairly fast. However, for more complex tasks in which individuals need to make intricate discriminations or weigh the relative consequences of different choices, caffeine seems to have little positive, and can actually be disruptive to this mental process.
When individuals ingest large doses of caffeine, the individual will experience more prominent symptoms such as muscle twitching, cardiac arrhythmias, rambling thoughts or speech, and psychomotor agitation. While there have been some studies that suggest physical problems or disease can be associated with caffeine use, the vast majority of these studies suffered from significant methodological problems and the results, therefore, have been inconclusive.
Research has demonstrated that there is physiological evidence of tolerance and withdrawal as well as psychological cravings associated with chronic caffeine use. There is certainly concern about the rapid increase in the last decade of children who are consuming larger doses of caffeine than we have previously seen. It will take some time for research to bear out whether or not deleterious effects are associated with excessive caffeine consumption in children whose brains are still developing. Certainly, the excessive amount of sugar that is often paired with caffeinated drinks also raises concern with regards to childhood obesity. In addition, the symptoms of nervousness and anxiety that are often reported with higher-level doses of caffeine have yet to be fully understood with regards to childhood consumption.
Enhancers and Depressants
There are three disparate groups of widely used drugs in our society: performance-enhancing drugs, depressants, and inhalants.
How did the use and development of performance-enhancing drugs evolve over time and societies? Start by checking out this entertaining and informative nine-minute overview video from SciShow.com: