Chit-chat in the lab: Caffeine Addiction

Me: Nair, did you read about this? Coffee may not really be a stimulant.

Nair: Oh?

Me: Neuroscientists studying caffeine addiction have shown that regular coffee drinkers who think coffee acts as a stimulant may be mistaken. The researchers conclude from their study that regular coffee drinkers develop a sort of tolerance to coffee, and ingesting caffeine doesn’t really make them more alert so much as it relieves them from their symptoms of caffeine withdrawal.

Nair: So, you aren’t really going from zero to +10 so much as you are going from -10 to 0?*

Me: Yeah. It’s not all that surprising, actually. We’ve known for some time now that caffeine-addiction is real. This is, actually, what happens with addiction in general. As far as I’ve understood it, the body produces serotonin which is sort of a super-hormone; it controls hunger and wakefulness and this and that. When somebody ingests an opiate, for example, the drug becomes an artificial source of serotonin. If repeated often, the neural pathways that control normal serotonin production shut down, they’re just not needed. And when people are weaned off the drug, the serotonin pathways which should’ve produced serotonin can’t, now, because they’ve, like, forgotten how to. And what results are called withdrawal effects. People feel tense, agitated, and restless; they sweat, and crave for more of the drug, and hence serotonin.

Nair: And caffeine behaves the same way?*

Me: Yeah… that’s what the study says.

… (30 seconds)

Me: Dude, coffee?


* I’m just being polite here… I actually said this as well!

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5 thoughts on “Chit-chat in the lab: Caffeine Addiction”

  1. Croor, I’m sure you dont talk that way, where are the machaans and the whys and the ehs?!

  2. I dont think reading about the neural pathways being affected by caffeine will change the way you look at coffee. That one cup of coffee makes you feel real good. doesnt it ?

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