Is Coffee Addictive? (The Shocking Answer)

Woman holding cup of coffee

Short Answer: Yes, coffee can become addictive!

Coffee can definitely give you a much-needed energy boost throughout the day, along with many other health benefits. Drinking it can easily become a daily habit, but coffee can also be addictive.

Ever wondered why coffee can make you more alert and energetic? It’s because it contains a natural stimulant called caffeine. You can find caffeine in beverages like tea, soda, and energy drinks.

Here’s how caffeine can affect your body:

  • increases brain activity
  • rapid heartbeat
  • restlessness
  • frequent urination

Sounds familiar? Well, if you’re worried that you’re liking coffee a bit too much, I have prepared a detailed guide on caffeine addiction and how you can prevent and treat it!

But first, let’s take a closer look on what your coffee contains.

Chemical Properties of Coffee

The main constituents of coffee are tannins, proteins, and oils. Caffeine makes up about 2 to 3% of coffee, which translates to about 100 mg per 8 oz.

Take note that coffee has more caffeine than tea, soda, and energy drinks.

Check out the table I made below for more details about the chemical properties of coffee.

ConstituentComponents
CarbohydratesMonosaccharides Fructose
Glucose
Galactose
Arabinose (traces)
Sucrose
Fructose
Raffinose
Stachyose
Mannose
Insoluble Polysaccharides
AcidsVolatile acids (Formic acids and Acetic acids)
Citric acid
Malic acid
Quinic acid
Caffeic acid
Chlorogenic acid (Mono-, dicaffeoyl- and feruloyl quinic acid, Lignin, Lipids, Wax)
Isochlorogenic acid
10 Amino acids
MineralsPotassium (1.1%)
Magnesium (0.2%)
Calcium (0.2%)
Phosphate (0.2%)
Sulfate (0.1%)
Aromatic ElementsSulfuric acid (roasty)
Phenolic (smoky)
Oils Fatty acids: N Compounds
CaffeineTheobromine ( diuretic and muscle relaxant)
Theophylline (relieves from bronchial asthma and also a muscle relaxant)
Trigonelline (0.6% in green coffee and 50% decomposed after roasting)
OthersNicotinic acid, methyl ester, pyridine, 3-methyl pyridine, etcetera
The Chemical Properties of Coffee

Is Addiction to Coffee a Thing?

Yes, coffee addiction is a thing! In fact, people can easily get addicted to substances that contain caffeine.

The table above mentions that caffeine is an N-compound. This affects your psychological process by stimulating your central nerve, increases blood circulation, and accelerates respiration.

Theobromine relaxes your muscles and veins. It is also a diuretic that causes increased urination.

Theophylline is also a muscle relaxant that relieves you from bronchial asthma.

The relaxing effect of these compounds is a large part of why so many people get hooked on caffeine.

Finding the right balance in your caffeine intake can be tricky.

What Happens If You Drink Coffee Every Day?

If you drink coffee every day, your body and muscles will get used to it.

Once you start decreasing your coffee intake, your body will experience some withdrawal symptoms such as irritability, tiredness, and headaches.

Headaches are one of the top symptoms of withdrawal. Check out this article that I have written about caffeine headaches.

Watch this video to better understand what happens to your body when you drink too much coffee.

WATCH AND LEARN: What happens to your body when you drink too much coffee?

How Long Does it Take to Become Addicted to Coffee?

While there’s no exact length of time, caffeine addiction usually sets in quickly.

People who drink coffee every day are more likely to develop an addiction to it.

Coffee drinkers build a tolerance and require more and more caffeine to keep experiencing the energy boost and stimulation.

But how will you know that you’re addicted to coffee?

Well, here are a few symptoms to watch out for.

  • You feel your pulse-raising if you don’t have a cup of coffee at a regular time.
  • You find yourself needing more than one cup of coffee per day.
  • You feel sad and demotivated if you fail to drink a cup of coffee.
  • You start getting a headache shortly after not consuming caffeine for the day.
  • You feel weak and lack energy without coffee.
  • You cannot focus or concentrate without coffee.

Can One Cup of Coffee a Day Get You Addicted?

No, but consuming 100 mg of caffeine (or equivalent to one cup) every day can slowly build up your body’s dependence on caffeine.

Still, people who drink more than two cups of coffee per day at more at risk of developing a caffeine addiction. Staying within the 1-2 cup limit is still safe.

How Many Cups of Coffee a Day is Healthy?

According to many physicians, it is okay to consume up to 400 mg of caffeine a day.

Meaning, a person can drink up to 4 cups a day without exceeding the limit.

However, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Even just a small amount is enough to get that caffeine kick.

If you’re caffeine sensitive, you’ll have to be more careful with your daily intake.

Is Tea Better Than Coffee?

Tea is another source of caffeine, although it has less than coffee.

However, tea does have more antioxidants than coffee, particularly L-theanine, which calms your brain. This is why a lot of people drink tea before going to sleep.

So if you’re looking for something to take the edge off while still giving you your dose of caffeine, you might want to consider switching to tea.

Which is More Addictive Coffee or Tea?

While tea does contain caffeine, coffee is still more addictive.

However, caution is still advised because too much consumption of tea can lead to caffeine addiction. Alternatively, you can use herbal teas with no caffeine in it.

Is Caffeine Addiction a Mental Disorder?

Caffeine addiction is not officially recognized as a mental disorder, but its negative side effects have long been documented.

On the other hand, caffeine overdose and caffeine withdrawal were both recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Caffeine Addiction is yet to be officially recognized as a mental disorder despite fervent clamor, mainly because of the lack of clinical evidence.

What Does Caffeine Addiction Do To Your Body?

High caffeine consumption is linked to increased blood pressure, arrhythmia, and osteoporosis.

But most of caffeine’s effects on health occur after you start decreasing your daily intake and here are the common caffeine withdrawal symptoms:

  • headache
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • lack of concentration
  • constant irritated mood
  • anxiety
  • depression

Because caffeine affects neurotransmitter levels, any change in regular intake can cause these symptoms within 24 hours from withdrawal.

Can Giving Up Caffeine Cause Depression?

Caffeine withdrawal can cause or heighten symptoms of depression in people who are already struggling with it.

A study revealed that this is more likely in women undergoing postpartum depression and people who tend to have panic attacks.

Interestingly, caffeine in tea and coffee is also shown to reduce symptoms of depression.

What Can Replace Coffee in the Morning?

If you’re at a loss on how to replace your morning coffee, there are great caffeine-free alternatives that will still give you the energy boost you need.

Chicory coffee tastes very similar to coffee and can be brewed like regular coffee grounds. It’s very healthy for your stomach and easy to make too.

Meanwhile, Yerba Mate is an herbal tea that almost has the same amount of caffeine as coffee. It’s chock-full of vitamins and minerals, but can taste a little bitter.

Chai Tea contains 47 mg of caffeine and has lots of health benefits. You can even add milk to make a great latte.

How Can I Stop Being Addicted to Caffeine?

The key to breaking a bad coffee habit is to gradually reduce intake in the span of weeks.

I would advise not to quit cold turkey though, as this can exacerbate withdrawal symptoms.

You can try switching to decaffeinated coffee or even tea at first as you wean yourself off caffeine.

You also have to take note of the caffeine present in the food and beverage you regularly consume. You might find that keeping a daily caffeine log is helpful.

Another method is diluting your caffeinated drinks in 10% increments so you can slowly get used to removing caffeine from your routine.

Final Thoughts

Coffee undoubtedly gives you a fresh start for the day by giving you the energy boost and alertness you need. There are many great health benefits that come with coffee, but there are also some negative effects that you have to consider.

Caffeine addiction is often an overlooked side effect. A way to check if you are too dependent on caffeine is by trying to go without it for 24 hours. If you find yourself having difficulty staying away from a hot cup of coffee, then Houston, we have a problem.

It’s a good practice to always take note of how much caffeine you consume in a day. The recommended limit for coffee intake is four cups per day.

While coffee often makes our day, it’s important to remember that too much can have adverse risks on our health.

So, know your limits and stay on the safe side of caffeine.

Matt Marshall

As I learn more and more about coffee and coffee products I want to share all my learnings with you here on this website. I hope you find my articles useful and entertaining to read.

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