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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 @05:21PM (#32437470)
    Isn't that what everyone is trying to do with their entire life?
  • well GREAT (Score:5, Funny)

    by DeadJesusRodeo (1813846) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#32437482)
    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!).
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:24PM (#32437514)

      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!).

      At least, with the METH, you will have

      a. better memory performance
      b. less of a need to visit a dentist

      Seems like a win/win!

      • Re:well GREAT (Score:5, Interesting)

        by justin12345 (846440) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:59PM (#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.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        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

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by linzeal (197905)
          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 Dragoniz3r (992309) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:51PM (#32439590)
          Your teeth weighed ten pounds? My god, man!
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Hadlock (143607)

          You're probably better off getting them capped with ceramics (crowns) now and save what's left of the tooth structure for when you need to recap them in 10-20 years' time. It costs about 1.5x-double but it definitely pays off in the long run. Fillings in your situation are simply a very poor bandaid to a much larger enamel problem.

    • Re:well GREAT (Score:5, Interesting)

      by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@@@yahoo...com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:28PM (#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]

      • Re:well GREAT (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:41PM (#32437718)

        Adderall is speed (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), not meth. Meth is sold medically under the brand name Desoxyn but prescription is rare.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by spun (1352)

          Adderall is speed (amphetamine/dextroamphetamine), not meth. Meth is sold medically under the brand name Desoxyn but prescription is rare.

          The More You Know!

        • Re:well GREAT (Score:4, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:36PM (#32438340)
          In common parlance all stimulants that are not cocaine and don't have hallucinogenic effects are referred to as "speed". Examples include amphetamine, dextroamphetamine, methamphetamine, cathinone, methcathinone, methylphenidate, and even modafinil.

          "Meth" is generally reserved for the easily smoked pure crystals of methamphetamine.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by haruharaharu (443975)
      Or you could exercise. I know, crazy talk, but it works.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:22PM (#32437484) Homepage

    I never touch coffee - it's a vile habit, especially when abused. Now that that's out of the way, barkeep, another pilsner please.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:08PM (#32438048)

      Very good, sir. But this is a dry cleaning shop.

  • by mujadaddy (1238164) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:23PM (#32437502)
    Coffee reaches its full potential at the 100th cup.
  • by DogDude (805747) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:24PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        as a caffeine addict in the uk, I can definitely say that we suffer from caffeine withdrawal symptoms here. At least, I do.

      • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Thursday June 03, 2010 @02:09AM (#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?

    • Hypertension, Heart Problems.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by raddan (519638) *
      Or that there really aren't any except withdrawal symptoms and slightly brownish teeth.

      We're awash in chemicals all day. Why do we have to vilify certain ones? People have withdrawal symptoms when they break up with their girlfriends, too, but we don't go around trying to treat people for love addiction. I can assure you that the feelings are just a bunch of chemicals.
    • by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:44PM (#32437758)

      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.

      jjjjust look at-t me...

  • When I drink coffee it helps me wake up. No more no less. Granted I could run a mile and wake up that way, but coffee does it a lot faster.
    • Re:Makes sense (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch&gmail,com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:28PM (#32437564) Journal

      And if you stop drinking coffee your body will adapt to waking up on its own with no need for it. I used to drink tons of soda (even more caffeine than coffee) and always had to have a can in the morning to wake up, I stopped drinking it (well aside from about 2 cans worth a week) and suddenly it was significantly easier to get up in the morning, to the point where, going to sleep at the same time, I was waking up an hour earlier and feeling much better.

      Caffeine is not a good way to start your day off, no matter what folgers may say. It's a useful drug for maintaining alertness every once in a while but used daily it reduces your overall alertness, which is bad.

      • Re:Makes sense (Score:4, Informative)

        by mattack2 (1165421) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:42PM (#32437738)

        I used to drink tons of soda (even more caffeine than coffee)

        [citation needed]

        How much soda were you drinking at one time?

        From http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/an01211 [mayoclinic.com]
        generic brewed coffee has (on the low end) 95 mg of caffeine in 8 oz. (200 mg on the high end)
        Mountain dew has 54 mg for 12 oz. (Vault has 71 mg, but Mt. Dew is "well known" as having high caffeine, and besides Vault is the highest in the list shown on that page.)

        So if you drank a lot of soda, over the course of the day you'd likely get more caffeine than one cup of coffee a day.. But IMHO, do typical coffee drinkers drink only one cup a day? I don't think so.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Alarindris (1253418)

        Caffeine is not a good way to start your day off, no matter what folgers may say.

        This is so true.

        There are many potheads that are all about "wake and bake". Yeah pot is fun and right away in the morning it feels awesome initially but the burnout is terrible.
        There are many drinkers that go out for bloody marys the next day. "Hair of the dog that bit ya'". And then you feel worse an hour after you stop drinking and go back to sleep.

        Eat a good breakfast, with protein, grain, carbs, sugar, salt, water or juice, and take a shit.

        You'll feel good no matter what.

    • by gad_zuki! (70830)

      Yes, but you're waking up from caffeine withdrawal, not sleepiness. If you quit caffeine right now in a week or so you would wake up naturally. That's the point of the study.

  • That explains so much... damn!
  • Sustained effect (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toppavak (943659) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:25PM (#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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chris Burke (6130)

      Uh, a person not on caffeine is "baseline". That's the point. A caffeine addict goes below baseline because they're suffering from withdrawal, and drinking caffeine only counters those symptoms. This doesn't happen to not-drinkers for obvious reasons.

  • Sure they do... (Score:4, Informative)

    by jbezorg (1263978) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:25PM (#32437518)

    There is another stimulating effect of caffeine that the article does not address.

    Caffeine is a diuretic.

  • You can have my coffee when you pry it from my cold dead hands!

  • So what you're telling me is that I should mainline caffeine so that withdrawal never kicks in?
  • Well, shit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glwtta (532858) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:27PM (#32437544) Homepage
    Guess I'm gonna have to get started on meth now.
  • We've known this for a very long time.

    Read "Buzz: The Science and Lore of Alcohol and Caffeine" -- ISBN-10: 0140268456

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:28PM (#32437570) Homepage Journal

    Heroin addicts don't really get high like they used to, they just get well.

    LK

  • Tolerance Yes... But it is all about keeping the body off balance. There is little doubt that coffee (aka caffeine) makes you more focused and energized. I mean to suggest that over 300 years of active "research" has no validity is kind of nieve in my mind. Sometimes so called researches have a hard time remembering this...

  • In real non-caffeine-addicted life, there is nothing you can do to make your brain go from 0-100 within a matter of a minute. With caffeine, you can do that.

    When I come into work in the morning, I am my arshole-y, foggy, caffeine-withdrawal self. Totally useless. But then I have my cup over coffee as I work over something, and before you know it, my mind is racing along. I remember what it was like in those B.C. days ("before caffeine"). I was a thinking being back then, too, but I had no control ov
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:48PM (#32437824)

      It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.
      It is by the beans of Java that thoughts acquire speed,
      the hands acquire shaking, the shaking becomes a warning.
      It is by caffeine alone I set my mind in motion.

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

    by cortesoft (1150075) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:32PM (#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.

    • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:44PM (#32437762)
      This is the reason I highly dislike the mainstream media. I guess it's okay for them to at least try to summarize research, even though they fail horribly most of the time, but for fuck's sake at least provide a link to the original research [nature.com] or at least the press release [bristol.ac.uk] from the university!

      A much better test would be to actually TEST their alertness, instead of relying on a subjective self-assessment.

      They did that. From the press release:

      Approximately half of the participants were non/low caffeine consumers and the other half were medium/high caffeine consumers. All were asked to rate their personal levels of anxiety, alertness and headache before and after being given either the caffeine or the placebo. They were also asked to carry out a series of computer tasks to test for their levels of memory, attentiveness and vigilance.

  • This idea applies to caffeine addicts. But to someone new to caffeine who hasn't developed a high tolerance, caffeine has its perks. So for addicts who want to relive those first moments, the idea is to go through periods of withdrawal intentionally in order to lower their tolerance, and then return to caffeine when needed. I do this all the time. Caution: withdrawal is not fun.

  • I was a caffeine freak for years. I would drink coffee from waking to bedtime, frequently I would go to bed and read and then go to sleep with a coffee mug that still some coffee in it. Sometimes on weekends when I was doing other things, I would get headaches from not having enough coffee. I would tell people that coffee did not keep me up, it merely gave me the option of wether or not I wanted to sleep. The other drugs I've been addicted to were a different story. Actually, I guess alcohol and nicoti

  • *GASP* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DIplomatic (1759914) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:41PM (#32437722) Journal
    I don't believe it. Next you'll be telling me that smoking a cigarette doesn't actually calm me down, it just reverses the effects of nicotine withdraw!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Bobfrankly1 (1043848)

      I don't believe it. Next you'll be telling me that smoking a cigarette doesn't actually calm me down, it just reverses the effects of nicotine withdraw!

      Just go crazy. Sip your coffee through your still smoldering cigarette. Put some vodka in your coffee for the best effect of all 3 worlds.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:49PM (#32437832) Journal

    "Baseline" is properly defined as the levels of mental alertness and physiological activation when mediated by an appropriately-high level of serum caffeine. People fall below baseline because they're caffeine-deprived.

    Don't think of it as a drug. Think of it as a vital metabolic nutrient. "Caffeine addicts" are addicts the same exact way that "protein addicts" and "vitamin C addicts" are.

    I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine if I'm serious.

  • Uh oh (Score:4, Funny)

    by HumanEmulator (1062440) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @05:55PM (#32437906)
    At first I thought the headline said "Caffeine Addicts Get Additional Perks", but I haven't had my coffee yet.
  • by Nick Number (447026) on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @06:04PM (#32438010) Homepage Journal

    A helpful subject for further research would be to determine how much caffeine a person can consume without becoming addicted and thus losing the benefits.

    I limit myself to two cups of coffee a week, along with a few sodas, and I don't experience withdrawal symptoms. I could probably have more without running into diminishing returns, but it's hard to know.

    Unfortunately the ideal dosage probably varies widely among people due to all sorts of physiological factors. Perhaps what we need is a procedure for testing when we're approaching the point of addiction, without actually reaching it.

  • Placebo (Score:4, Funny)

    by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich.aol@com> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:00PM (#32439138) Journal

    For one week, I switched the coffee in our lab coffee club to decaf... nobody noticed. The one "proud" coffee addict even asked one day if I was making it stronger, while putting on an act of being over-stimulated.

    There are ~10 people who use that machine. Seriously. Not one of them noticed they were drinking decaf for a week.

    *sigh

  • by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashBLUEdot.org minus berry> on Wednesday June 02, 2010 @08:41PM (#32439510)

    That’s true for every drug. It’s the definition of the whole thing.
    It’s why they raise the dosage all the time. (Often it’s impossible to raise it fast enough to not get down to zero anyway.)

    Seriously: News at 11.

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