Why is caffeine a drug?
Good question! Caffeine is considered an addictive substance, which is why it is categorized as a drug.
The way it works
Caffeine works as a stimulant and psychoactive drug. As a stimulant, it impairs your nervous system by blocking something called your adenosine receptors, which are the things that help prompt you to sleep. In this case, it causes wakefulness and alertness. As a psychoactive drug, it can influence your mental processes.
Can it be dangerous?
The tricky part is that caffeine is not regulated in the United States.
There is such a thing as Caffeine Toxicity, which is an overdose of caffeine that can cause death, which happened to a teen after drinking two large Monster drinks.
Because caffeine is addictive, as little as one cup of coffee a day can lead to a person being ‘addicted.’
Signs of a possible caffeine addiction include:
- Talking rapidly, sometimes incoherently and without logical association between one idea and another
- Complaining of heart palpitations, chest pains and/or tachycardia
- Excessively perspiring without cause
- Dehydration or Headaches
- Inability to sit still
- Inability to stop hands and body from shaking
How much caffeine is safe for a teenager?
The Food Drug Administration reports that caffeine is “generally recognized as safe.”
Generally around 100 mg of caffeine, which is about a cup of coffee, two Mountain Dew’s, three Coke’s, one 8 oz. energy drink (like Rockstar or Red Bull). You can find a full list on Kidshealth.org.
Energy drinks are not regulated, so can contain anywhere from six milligrams to as high as 242 milligrams per drink. That’s double the amount that is safe for teenagers to consume.
In addition, some energy drinks are larger sized and may have more than one serving of caffeine in their product, like Monster Energy Drinks.
Your health and how you take care of yourself is something that you have to decide on. You decide what you put in your body.