Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. The average American drank three and a half cups of coffee every day in 2020, and the United States wasn’t even in the top ten most coffee-consuming nations. Most adults find their morning cup of joe to be non-negotiable, with 90% of Americans drinking at least one cup every day.
Is this a bad thing? The quick answer is no, not at all. Caffeine is a natural compound made by over 60 known plants, and though it is classified as a drug it does not behave like most other drugs out there.
In most laboratory settings, you can get mice to do some pretty strange things for substances such as alcohol, cocaine, and even THC. However, rats won’t harm themselves or others in order to obtain caffeine. Of course, they like it, but they generally consume it in moderation and without going out of their way.
We know caffeine is habit forming, but can you be truly addicted to it? Addiction is complex and measured mainly by two things: withdrawal and tolerance.
Withdrawal from caffeine is something most adults are familiar with, the headache and irritability that comes from skipping your usual morning cup of coffee. This is true withdrawal; but these symptoms will subside after one or two days max. And, caffeine does not build up physiological tolerance like all other drugs. You won’t need more and more coffee every day in order to feel the same effect, though the amount of caffeine tolerated by individuals does vary.
Because of these facts, caffeine is not what we would call addictive in the traditional sense, though it is very habit forming. But it is certainly not a bad habit to keep. Coffee and tea, the two most common ways of consuming caffeine, are both linked to numerous health benefits such as lowered risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson’s disease.
Of course, everything comes down to listening to your body. Caffeine is not bad for you unless it does not make you feel good. Sensitivity varies by individuals. Some of us feel very anxious after drinking coffee, and for these people caffeine is bad. Always listen to your body and make conscious decisions about what you put inside of it, and how those things make you feel. When you are experiencing more anxiety than usual, consider cutting down on your caffeine use for a while until you feel better.