Caffeine addiction tightens its hold on UAHS students

by Olivia Buster, ’20

Sophomore Joy Jang takes another sip from her coffee as she flips through her geometry textbook. It’s currently 12 a.m., but the effects of lack of sleep haven’t caught up to her. Instead of feeling drowsy, she feels refreshed and energized. Joy isn’t the only teenager using caffeine to stay alert while studying late. 83.2 percent of teenagers consume caffeinated beverages regularly, and at least 96 percent of teens consume it occasionally.

Caffeine has caused Jang to feel the symptoms of the lack of sleep much later in the day.

“I feel alright throughout the day and crash at around 8 p.m at my desk while I’m doing homework. Then I wake up at 4 a.m wondering what happened the night before and I feel hungover until I get my coffee,” Jang said.

Caffeine is a drug naturally occurring in 60 different plant species, but it can also be artificially produced in certain foods. Like other drugs, caffeine has its negative effects. The Mayo Clinic states that up to 400 mg of caffeine is safe for most healthy adults. Heavy use of caffeine can cause side effects such as nervousness, anxiety, jitteriness, tremors, increased heart rate and sleep problems.

Jang said she was “addicted” to caffeine and that her caffeine addiction began in eighth grade.

“Back when I was addicted, I just felt absolutely terrible whenever I didn’t have my coffee. I literally thought I wouldn’t be able to survive without at least three cups. It got to the point that I was so jittery that I couldn’t concentrate in class,” Jang explained.

According to the Adolescent Addiction Care center, higher dopamine levels in the teenage brain than adults causes teens to be more prone to abusing caffeine. Signs of a caffeine addiction are dramatic changes in appetite and sleep patterns, extreme and sudden mood swings, excessive perspiring without cause and inability to sit still.

Jang has since cut down her caffeine intake.

“I quit caffeine cold turkey over the summer, and it was a struggle at first, but it got better later on. When the summer was over, I decided to go back to drinking it and drink only one cup a day, and it’s worked ever since,” Jang said.