Drug Awareness


What is caffeine?

Many people think of caffeine as nothing more than something in coffee that perks them up in the morning. However, caffeine is also found in other common substances, including tea, cocoa, chocolate and cola.

Caffeine is classified as a drug because it affects the central nervous system. Caffeine is a stimulant, because it speeds up the production of nerve impulses.

Caffeine content in tea can be as high as five per cent. The caffeine content in an average cup of coffee is usually higher, because it takes a lot more coffee beans to make a cup of coffee than it does tea leaves to make one cup of tea.

Energy drinks with caffeine

Energy drinks contain caffeine, as well as ingredients such as taurine and guarana (a natural source of caffeine). Guarana and taurine are marketed as increasing energy, but clinical evidence for this has not been clearly established.

What does caffeine do to me?

Most researchers say that there is very little health risk for people who consume less than 600mg per day. However, if you are under stress or suffer anxiety then doctors recommend less than 200mg per day. Too much caffeine may cause insomnia, anxiety, depression and stomach upsets.

There is no evidence to support the myth that caffeine stunts your growth.

What caffeine can do to you – and some people are more susceptible to its effects than others – includes:
  • Increase general metabolism and body temperature
  • Increase urination
  • Increase alertness
  • Stimulate the secretion of gastric acid
  • Increase heart rate and blood pressure
  • Affect concentration
  • Affect sleep, both initially and returning to sleep after waking
  • Produce nervousness and jitters
  • Produce stomach soreness.

Will caffeine have other effects on me?

In young people, caffeine is usually consumed in soft drinks. This is of concern for the above reasons, but also for other health-related reasons:
  • If you drink a lot of soft drinks or chocolate drinks that contain large amounts of sugar, there is a potential risk of weight gain or obesity, and related effects such as diabetes.
  • If you drink soft drinks often, and instead of water or milk, you are likely to miss the nutritional ingredients such as calcium obtained from other drinks.
  • The sugar in soft drinks may lead to dental problems.
  • Caffeine causes your body to eliminate water, which may cause dehydration. If you are sensitive to the effects of caffeine, you may feel the effects even six hours after drinking it. The effects on sleep patterns may affect your ability to function at school or work.
Some of this information has been provided by and reproduced with permission from the Centre for Education and Information on Drugs and Alcohol.

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