Caffeine is a stimulant drug that is in many foods and drinks. It is found naturally in many plants such as coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa nuts, and it can also be produced artificially. In fact, large doses of caffeine are becoming more common as energy drinks are increasing in popularity among youth and Canadian in general.
- Mixing alcohol and caffeine can be very dangerous; it may temporarily make you feel less intoxicated, therefore you are more likely to drink greater amounts and engage in risky behaviour;
- Energy drinks will not rehydrate you, water will! (Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse: Caffeinated Alcoholic Bevarages) (Health Canada: Caffeine) (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH))
How it works
Once caffeine enters your system, it takes effect in about 15 minutes. To get rid of just half of the caffeine you have consumed, it can take up to six hours. Caffeine stimulates the brain in similar ways as cocaine and heroin. While caffeine is much milder than these drugs, it is still addictive.
Caffeine increases alertness, which is why people crave coffee when they are tired. However, caffeine can also cause irritability, insomnia, headaches and nervousness (Health Canada).
Tolerance and dependence
One can become physically dependent and/or addicted to caffeine. A way to tell if someone is addicted to caffeine is to take away their cup of coffee, their Coke or whatever else they drink to get their caffeine and see if there are any withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can include anything from a headache to muscle pain to fatigue (Health Canada).
What you can do
For more information on caffeine, please talk to your family doctor or your school guidance counsellor. You can also check out the links below.