A cup of coffee here and there is fine, but young adults should keep caffeine consumption low


College students need to be careful about how much caffeine they intake during stressful times.

A couple cups of coffee or tea are a great way to get back into a heavy workload after three wonderful months of fun in the sun, but what happens once you find yourself drinking a cup every two hours? Or if you start chugging sugary energy drinks to get that afternoon kick?

College students need to be careful about how much caffeine they intake during stressful times. Anna Lark / Special to Xpress.
College students need to be careful about how much caffeine they intake during stressful times. Anna Lark / Special to Xpress.

Although a cup of coffee or two is quite beneficial in the morning, when college students find themselves turning to excessive amounts of caffeine, such as popping caffeine pills to keep up with their busy lives, they have to take a step back and reevaluate their consumption choices.

In 2006, the National Coffee Association (NCA) shined light on an often overlooked addiction in the United States. Reports show that about 68 percent of our nation admitted to being “hooked” on coffee. The next year, New Science Magazine’s Richard Lovett reported that 90 percent of North American adults consume some form of caffeine on a daily basis, making this legal substance the most commonly used drug in the nation.

Caffeination is great. After one cup of coffee people become much more productive, excited to work and in general, happy. But on top of all that productivity lies an underlying truth: your body will actually begin to crave – no, need that extra kick throughout the day.

Imagine if you were to stop using caffeine right now. Within 24 hours, your mind will feel foggy. Your muscles will ache and you’ll want to lie on any flat surface, curl up in a ball and fall asleep. After drinking coffee, Monsters and Mountain Dew over an extended amount of time, the human body will continue to need them, just as with any drug.

According to a 2012 Gallup study, coffee consumption, overall, has remained relatively consistent since 1999, and yet more and more people say they are dependent on caffeine, according to Lovett. The introduction of new types of caffeinated beverages, such as energy drinks (Red Bull, Monster, Full Throttle) could contribute to stable numbers of coffee drinkers over the years during a time when more and more people admit to be caffeine addicts.

Basically, if anyone ever finds themselves crawling on the ground, desperately seeking a fix to wake them up out of their sleepy slump, a caffeine savior is not farther than a stroll down to the next block.

In 2005, Phusion Projects LLC began producing Four Lokos, a caffeinated alcoholic drink which gained popularity among college students for giving them both a quick jolt of caffeine and a speedway landing into drunkenness. The company quickly fell under scrutiny by health advocates and watch groups after the drink grew popular among teenagers, on college campuses and led to reports of heightened binge drinking and a series of deaths.

Years later, Four Lokos are still sold but contain less caffeine. Phusion promises to be more careful in their advertising, especially ads that may have seemed directed to minors.

Regardless, the fact that a malt beverage can get young adults drunk and give them that caffeine buzz is unnerving.

College kids have to be more careful when deciding how to get themselves up in the morning, but a cup of coffee every day (or five, during finals week) is nothing to be ashamed of.