Caffeine: What the can isn’t telling you

      Morning cups of local microbrew coffee and gas station monster energy fuel our daily endeavors. Young and old intake caffeine to start their day without considering the risks. As of recent years, more and more teenagers thoughtlessly use caffeine everyday to keep up with work. But too much reliance on caffeinated drinks can easily lead to an unhealthy dependency, which has been the case for many teenagers.

Over the course of distance learning, many students have found themselves feeling overwhelmed by the figurative tsunami of assignments and quizzes. To maintain GPAs and an exponential increase in exposure to blue light due to computer screens, some students have started using caffeine to provide them with the kick to finish their late assignments by 11:59. The problem with this is that while caffeine isn’t inherently addictive, dependency on it can form easily enough without proper use of caution. With all these sleep deprived teenagers relying on coffee and energy drinks, are the side effects of caffeine dependence worth the extra motivation?

If you dislike the taste of a bitter coffee brew, or stay away from the hyper caffeinated energy drinks, then you might not know how caffeine works in the body or what the side effects of withdrawal can be. Caffeine is a stimulant, meaning that it quite literally stimulates the production of dopamine in the brain, giving you a rush of energy and concentration. Dependence on caffeine forms when your body builds up a tolerance, meaning that it takes more caffeine to achieve the same effect. When your tolerance gets higher, your body becomes more dependent. If you were to suddenly stop drinking coffee all of the sudden then you might experience withdrawal symptoms like a headache, tiredness, and insomnia. The benefits of caffeine can be very tempting, those 28 missing assignments aren’t finishing themselves. But it’s important to keep in mind the possible side effects of this enticing substance.

The upward trend of caffeine use in teenagers is startling, but understandable given the amount of work and time spent in online class. Coffee and energy drinks can seem very attractive to many teens because of their apparent benefits. “caffeine enhances dopamine signaling in the brain… which makes a person feel more awake and alert,“ the National Institute on Drug Abuse said, further supporting why caffeine products are viewed as an effective means of boosting concentration and alertness.

The Cleveland Clinic agrees, saying “the stimulant in your coffee, tea, chocolate and soda that reduces tiredness, increases alertness and gives you a boost of energy.” However, when it comes to the negative aspects of caffeinated beverages, the Clinic additionally had this to say, “caffeine can cause insomnia, headaches, dehydration and high blood pressure, if you’re not careful,” which brings to light the more negative side effects that contrast the surface level benefits.

Now exactly how much caffeine is considered too much? According to the University of Michigan, “Adults can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day — about four to five cups of coffee,” which seems like a lot, because it is, but this is only the safe amount for a single day. When teenagers ingest this much caffeine, their tolerance builds up tremendously which can lead to adverse health problems.

Caffeine can lead to dangerous abnormal heart rhythms or lead to neurologic symptoms of hallucinations or seizures,” says the University of Michigan, highlighting the most extreme instances of caffeine abuse. Of course this isn’t the majority of people, but relying too much on caffeinated drinks can still negatively affect your health.

Is caffeine use among teenagers a concerning health risk, or an useful tool in maintaining a flawless report card? On the surface, caffeine is just another way to help students get work done faster. But shimmering underneath the appealing sheen of focus and clarity, debilitating side effects can lurk below the surface. Teenager’s growing dependancy on caffeine reflects the tremendous stress many students suffer from. Either schools need to find ways to lessen the amount of work assigned to students, or create a brand new teen addiction.