Caffeine is often a daily part of people’s routines. Some joke that their day can’t start without their morning cup of coffee or three. Coffee and caffeine are staples in many office environments, and coffee shops are found on many street corners in America. Is it possible that this thing so many of us rely on could be a drug?

Caffeine is Considered a Drug

Caffeine is, in fact, a stimulant drug. Stimulant drugs increase the rate of brain and body activity. That is why consuming a caffeine product can make you feel more alert or awake. Specifically, caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. It also increases blood pressure, acts as a diuretic, and increases the release of stomach acid.

Caffeine is not only found in coffee beans. Caffeine is also in tea leaves, kola nuts (used in soda), and cacao pods (use in chocolate products). It is naturally occurring in some plants. Additionally, caffeine is sometimes used to treat headaches, asthma, gallbladder disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Caffeine is deemed safe for healthy adults when taken by mouth at daily doses of 400mg or less. That is about 4 cups of coffee.

The Effects of Caffeine

The way caffeine impacts a person depends on their size, health, other drugs they may be taking, and the amount of caffeine they consume.

Side Effects of Caffeine Consumption

These side effects of caffeine can kick in as quickly as five minutes after a person’s consumes a cup of coffee or tea. The effects may last for up to 12 hours.

Some of the most common side effects include: 

  • Increased alertness
  • Feeling more active
  • Restlessness, or difficulty with relaxing or sleeping
  • Excitability
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Dehydration
  • Urgency for urination
  • Faster breathing
  • Increases heart rate
  • High body temperature
  • Headache
  • Stomach pains
  • Heartburn

Long-Term Effects of Caffeine Consumption

Consuming a larger amount of caffeine over a long period can lead to other effects. For example, drinking 4 or more cups of coffee per day would be considered excessive.

The following long-term side effects are uncommon, but they aren’t impossible:

  • Nervousness
  • Confusion or delirium
  • Irritability
  • Sleeping issues or restlessness
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tremor
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Irregular heart rate or rhythm
  • Faster breathing rate
  • Stomach issues, including poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Ulcer development
  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Low blood pressure with faintness or dizziness
  • Seizures,

It’s important to remember that though coffee can help you feel more energetic in the short term, the “come down” may make you feel more tired than you were before.

Additionally, consuming caffeine with other drugs or alcohol can lead to complications. Talk with a doctor about mixing any drug with caffeine. For example, it can be dangerous to consume caffeine while also taking a stimulant drug, as it increases your risk for cardiovascular issues.

Caffeine Withdrawal

After regularly consuming caffeine for months or years, it may be difficult to stop. This is because of the positive effects the brain experiences when caffeine is in your system.

In some cases, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop drinking coffee every day. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Difficult Concentrating
  • Flu-like symptoms

Can You Overdose on Caffeine?

Although it is extremely unlikely, it is possible to overdose on caffeine. As with any drug, an overdose can be fatal. Signs of caffeine overdose can include:

  • Tremors
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Very fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Confusion
  • Panic attack
  • Seizure

Please seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms after consuming caffeine.

It is important to remember that not all drugs have the same risk level to the body. Problems with caffeine are rare but can occur. Moderation is key. Consider talking to your medical doctor. A health professional that knows your history can give you the best guidance about any dietary or drug-related consumption. They may suggest that you avoid or limit caffeine.