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Caffeine: The Addiction We Share … and Don’t Talk About

Photo Credit: Untitled by Danielle Denham-Skinner

Young lovers sit at a sidewalk café and sip espresso between kisses; a group of giggling cheerleaders head for a cooler filled with iced energy drinks; a group of happy kids swing jack-o’-lantern baskets filled with candy bars, including some of our own favorites from childhood. These familiar scenes—romantic, joyous, heartwarming—are hiding an uncomfortable truth in plain sight: these apparently healthy and wholesome people are, like most Americans, dependent upon a powerful psychoactive stimulant drug: caffeine.Murray Carpenter, an investigative journalist and the author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us, conservatively estimates that more than 80 percent of Americans are consuming caffeine in excess of 100 mg/day, and the Federal Drug Administration’s estimates are even higher. A 2010 FDA report suggests that approximately 90 percent of us are using caffeine on a daily basis, and at a dose of more than 200 mg. These estimates are based on self-report and may be even higher. This is because about 54 percent of users are getting caffeine in the form of coffee or tea, and th …

Peggy La Cerra, PhD, is an evolutionary neuroscientist and co-author of The Origin of Minds: Evolution, Uniqueness, and the New Science of Self.

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AddictionCaffeineScienceLife Changes

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