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Medicine Science

Caffeine Addicts Get No Additional Perk, Only a Return To Baseline 506

Posted by timothy
from the aren't-all-perks-relative? dept.
Dthief writes "Bristol University researchers found that coffee drinkers develop a tolerance to both the anxiety-producing and the stimulating effects of caffeine, meaning that it only brings them back to baseline levels of alertness, not above them. 'Although frequent consumers feel alerted by caffeine, especially by their morning tea, coffee, or other caffeine-containing drink, evidence suggests that this is actually merely the reversal of the fatiguing effects of acute caffeine withdrawal,' wrote the scientists, led by Peter Rogers of Bristol's department of experimental psychology."
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Caffeine Addicts Get No Additional Perk, Only a Return To Baseline

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  • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:21PM (#32437470)
    Isn't that what everyone is trying to do with their entire life?
  • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:24PM (#32437506) Homepage
    As a former caffeine addict, I would *love* to see some serious studies come out describing the long term consequences to long term caffeine use. Of course, we'll never see that because there's more money behind caffeine than alcohol and tobacco, combined.
  • Sustained effect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toppavak (943659) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:25PM (#32437516)
    The more interesting question isn't whether caffeine gets one to above normal levels of energy but whether it can enable a user to remain at baseline for longer periods of time compared to someone not on caffeine.
  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:26PM (#32437538)
    For some weird reason, I have never met someone outside of the US that even had the slightest conception of "caffeine withdrawal". All the usually described effects - headaches, sleepiness - on caffeine withdrawal, just don't seem to happen for people outside of the US. Now that would be a topic for some serious psych dissertation...
  • Re:well GREAT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary&yahoo,com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:28PM (#32437572) Journal

    So either I have to use Red Bull's oddball sugar-enriched BS for a charge (which I'll probably build up a tolerance to), or seek out alternatives like - METH (it's what's for breakfast! Yummy mmmmmeth!).

    Otherwise known as 'Adderall,' yes, it is what's for breakfast. [theonion.com]

  • It could be that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cortesoft (1150075) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:32PM (#32437634)

    This study asked people to 'rate their levels of alertness' after being given either caffeine or a placebo. The people who normally consumed caffeine rated their alertness levels the same after receiving caffeine as the non-caffeine users rated their alertness levels after receiving a placebo.

    Now this could mean a couple of things. One meaning could be what the study authors said; that caffeine addicts need their caffeine to be at the same level of alertness that non-caffeine users need. OR it could mean that the non-caffeine users aren't used to the higher levels of alertness that caffeine gives you, and therefore don't use the same scale to rate their alertness that caffeine users do. A caffeine user may think that the 'normal' (non-caffeinated) level of alertness is actually low (because they are used to being more alert from caffeine) even though they have the same 'actual' level of alertness. In other words, non-caffeinated people might not realize how un-alert they are.

    A much better test would be to actually TEST their alertness, instead of relying on a subjective self-assessment. Make them do tasks that require alertness, and measure the differences. You might get different results.

  • Re:Sustained effect (Score:4, Interesting)

    by toppavak (943659) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:42PM (#32437740)
    A non-coffee drinker will also fall below baseline- when they're exhausted / sleepy. The question I was asking is if one could use caffeine to extend the amount of time that they can stay at baseline before becoming tired as a non-caffeine user would at that point.
  • Re:well GREAT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by justin12345 (846440) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @04:59PM (#32437938)
    I actually attended a lecture by Dr. Carl Hart at The Secret Science Club [blogspot.com]. His lecture was pretty interesting, namely the experiments they preformed where they give moderate to large amounts of orally administered methamphetamine to human research subjects. The majority of them administered it early in the day just like you would a cup of coffee. The expected "Binge" activity was actually pretty uncommon in the majority of the test subjects.
  • by Mindcontrolled (1388007) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:03PM (#32437984)
    That might very well be. I just find it weird personally, as I go between phases where I feel like coffee and drink it like water, and phases where I don't drink any at all. I never felt any negative effects after stopping the coffee, even for weeks. Neither have my friends. Perhaps our alcohol addiction masks the effects, though ;) I do not doubt your experience, and I do not want to troll here - I am surrounded by some heavy coffee drinkers and I am on and off myself, but I just did not see that effect nor did I hear of it, as I said, before I got into contact with Americans. I gotta do some reading on the topic when I next hit the library - perhaps there is some serious biochemistry to be found to clear this up.
  • by B1oodAnge1 (1485419) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:13PM (#32438118)

    When most caffeine "addicts" stop drinking their favorite caffeinated beverage they often fail to replace it with water and or other non caffeinated beverages. This causes dehydration which is mistaken for withdrawal symptoms.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:37PM (#32438350) Homepage

    It speeds the heart and increases blood pressure, but does not raise mental awareness. People who think they need it to wake up in the morning are deluding themselves. People who think they need it for energy are also fooling themselves. I wonder when people will start to wake up to the facts they should have learned in basic biology class. Want to feel less tired, more aware and awake? Get some serious vitamins in you. That keeps me going ALL day long unless I spoil it by drinking a soda or some excessive sugars. I'm still whistling, singing and bouncing around at the end of the day while other people are watching the clock and waiting to go home because they feel so tired. And if anyone SHOULD start feeling tired at the end of the day, it's me... I'm in my early 40s. Feed your body right and your body will act right. Simple, simple, simple.

    I'm no health nut. I eat crap all the time, but I also eat healthy stuff too and limit my soda intake a lot (and yet will drink one a day usually). But even doing a little helps a lot. Still haven't been seriously ill in over 10 years... actually more like 15 years. It just seems most people are just eating and drinking nothing but crap... even a 50/50 rate of crap to healthy food would do a lot for most people.

  • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:44PM (#32438406) Homepage

    Maybe wrong kind of forum but this is especially noticeable with pre-workout products.

    Taking them may help you get going that single time but the next time / for a period of time after extensive use you will feel fucking tired and unmotivated unless you take it again. And well, then that time it won't be a total different experience from what it would had been if you had stayed of it for the whole time.

    If I remember things correctly the endocrine (? or fat-burning/performance enhancing) abilities of caffeine is supposed to be there even if you don't "feel them." Maybe that depends on how it has been used and between various studies, if there have even been more than one .. Usually stuff like this isn't researched on very big groups and over and over again.

    Anyway, I thought it was already well-known that consuming caffeine actually make you more tired on average even though you feel more awake when you take it compared to your state before taking it.

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:45PM (#32438416) Homepage Journal

        I'll concur, caffeine withdrawal does exist. My poison isn't coffee, it's soda. But, at several liters a day, my consumption matched or beat yours.

        I don't think the reporting of it is because it doesn't exist elsewhere. It's more likely that they take advantage of their copious sick days, and/or simply never quit.

        I've quit drinking it a few times. Every time, after about 12 to 16 hours of not consuming any, I end up with a migraine bad enough to wish my head would just hurry up and explode. Sensitivity to noise and light was so bad I'd lock myself in a dark room, and curse at anyone who came near me, followed by cursing about all the noise I was making. Last time I did it, I was staying with someone, who force fed me a glass of soda, because I looked like I was in such pain.

        After that, I found it rather difficult to find places that didn't serve soda as their primary beverage (except bars). Once I quit, I was strong willed for a while. I refused anything. Try going to a fast food establishment and ordering a large water. You'll get some really dumb looks, as if you're speaking a foreign language. In my quitting, I was avoiding any drinks with sugar or caffeine. And no, sugar free caffeine free soda wasn't an acceptable substitute. I can't drink anything with sugar substitutes without getting an almost instant migraine. I usually can't tell the difference between the taste of sugar drinks and sugar free synthetically sweetened drinks, but I'll be able to tell you about it for the next 6 to 8 hours while I suffer from a migraine almost as bad as the caffeine withdrawal.

        I'm sure I'll try again someday. I'm just not looking forward to the couple days of migraines because of it.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:52PM (#32438472) Journal

    It's worth pointing out that coffee beans do contain a substance, cafestol [wikipedia.org], that affects cholesterol regulation. Cafestol is removed by paper filtration, so us American drip coffee drinkers can rest easy. But if you're drinking french press or turkish coffee on a regular basis, it could have a significant effect on your cholesterol levels.

  • by JWSmythe (446288) <.jwsmythe. .at. .jwsmythe.com.> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:18PM (#32438752) Homepage Journal

        There should be a warning. I drink soda. Lots and lots of soda. It's like sipping coffee for 16 hours straight. Well, sipping 16+ cups of coffee over 16 hours.

        I was at work late one night. I ran out of soda, and I had no change for the vending machine. The coffee machine was sitting there saying "You can drink me. Come on, you know you need the fix. Just turn me on, and brew yourself a pot."

        Apparently I'm no good at brewing coffee. I drank 4 cups of very strong coffee in an hour, and then I was finished my work for the night. I drove home with my eyes jittering so bad I could barely see straight. I spent the following few hours bouncing off the walls like a speed junkie. I got another week's worth of work done that night, plus cleaned the whole house.

  • Re:well GREAT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOsPAm.gmail.com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:21PM (#32438780) Homepage Journal

    b. less of a need to visit a dentist

    You ain't jokin'. I used to drink 2-3L of mt dew a day... destroyed my teeth. Now I'm getting fillings every visit, and I don't expect that to improve any time soon. WOrst part is that when I switched to diet soda, I thought it would at least help with the tooth problem. Nope -- it's not the sugar, it's the slightly acidic content that essentially etches your teeth where it pools up along the gumline. (On the other hand, contrary to what "studies show", I *did* lose about 10 lbs with diet soda. That's some consolation..)

  • Re:As I always say (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AaxelB (1034884) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:36PM (#32438906)
    I don't actually have anything against coffee, but I don't drink it because I can wake up on my own, and I don't find its taste compelling enough to drink all the time. I think the comparison between alcohol and caffeine probably has more to do with the reasons people have for drinking it.

    Drinking coffee to wake up every morning will probably lead to dependence. Drinking coffee because it tastes good, at somewhat irregular times, probably won't. Similarly, drinking beer just because it's delicious(*) and the light buzz is pleasant probably won't lead to dependence, but drinking to make yourself happier or to "escape" in any way probably will. It's much easier to become dependent on something that you, you know, depend on.


    (*) I'm wholly on board with you that most super pale, weak, flavorless "beer" is vile; that's why I drink better beer. [beeradvocate.com]
  • Re:well GREAT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by linzeal (197905) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:53PM (#32439074) Homepage Journal
    Never drink anything that has phosphoric acid [naturalnews.com] in it. I read the ingredient list when I was in my first year of college and have drank maybe a few dozen sodas since. It does the same thing to your bones as it does to your teeth, it leeches Calcium out.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @07:45PM (#32439538) Homepage

    I drink, on average, 10 cups of moderately strong coffee per day (that's relative though; it's American coffee, which is not normally as strong as other coffees). I drink mostly "breakfast blend" which has a milder taste, but more of a caffeine kick. On some days I don't drink any coffee and occasionally get headaches. I assume this is the withdrawal effect.

    And yes. I don't sleep well at all. On average I sleep 4 hours a day (go to bed at 1:30AM, wake up at 5:30AM). And sometimes I don't sleep so much as wait either... Sort of a vicious cycle too... I drink coffee in the morning because I don't feel quite human until I had that first cup. It's more of a routine than an actual need for caffeine though. It's just something I do that's a rote action until my brain starts functioning normally. Others may do a morning run but I see that as akin to eating an egg-white omelet.

    I'm allergic to alcohol, BTW. It makes me very red and very nauseous.

    And to prove your point.. It's 8:44PM here now. I've been at the office since 9AM... So almost a 12 hour day...

  • Re:As I always say (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @11:26PM (#32440614)
    Chances are he was drinking quite a bit more. My uncle used to maintain he only had two beers a night, but lately its been no secret that he's kept a handle of bottom shelf vodka in his sock drawer. Recently he drunkenly confessed to me he's had 2 pints of vodka a day for the last 43 years. Shockingly he's in nearly perfect health, except for a touch of arthritis.

    Also alcohol withdrawal is usually greatly exacerbated by injury, such as your uncle's car accident. The shock to the nervous system plus the removal of the alcohol's nervous suppressant properties makes the overall risks far worse then either alone would be. In such cases a benzodiazepine with a long half life is prescribed to both sedate the patient and also to ease the patient's nervous system back to normal, otherwise you could be looking at seizures, heart attack, or stroke.
  • by NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @12:43AM (#32441140)
    I gave up caffeine a few years ago, and it was an interesting experience. I would tend to agree with these findings. I gave up refined sugar too. I was amazed at how my mood changed. I was also amazed by how much I had put my body through for so many years. You never know until you try and then you never know again until you stop.
  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @01:09AM (#32441298) Journal

    US TV shows can't resist putting in the effects of sugar on kids. And nobody ever noticed that anywhere else in the world. Maybe because IT IS NOT TRUE. Yes you can energy from sugar but the human body has plenty of sugar all the time on a normal diet. It isn't going to hyper because you add more fuel to it, you just get fatter because the body can now store fat for later instead of burning it as it should.

    Clinical trials have shown that kids have no sugar rush UNLESS the parent who thinks kids get a sugar rush are present and then the kids do indeed become hyper active. So over-sensitive parents cause hyper-active children. Not sugar. (That parents infleuence the actions of they child is well known, simple experiment: put a baby who can crawl on a surface and let it crawl over a gap covered by a glass plate. The baby will have no reaction of its own to the height below it. If the mother shows delight then the baby will show it, and cross happily. If the mother shows horror, the baby will react in fear trying to determine what danger it is in. This is how we learn, how all animals with parents learn. But we can learn wrong if the input is wrong. Over-protective parents cause over-sensitive children. Yes, sometimes kids just need to walk it off and funnily enough, they do. Watch a child playing on its own. It falls, nobody panics, it continues.)

    Same with coffee. Some writer probably thought it was funny and now everyone believes sitcom rules apply to the real world. Yes, cafine is different from sugar in that it is a drug and does have an effect but you need to be the kind who drinks energy drinks as if they were water, with no water. Not just a cup of coffee. Even half a dozen.

    It think part of it is that people act the way they think they are supposed to act. And yes, that would be very intresting to study more because it might have a serious effect on health care. For instance the use of medication when it ain't needed. If you think you need a pill for everything, you will need a pill for everything and indeed get a pill for everything. The US is the most medicated nation on the planet and yet they aren't any healthier. What is all the non-needed drugs doing? Not just to health but to the health care costs? If media is causing people to think they have to behave in a bad way, perhaps it can be reversed as well. Less pill swallowing for every ailment in popular media content could perhaps translate to lower medicine costs?

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