Caffeine Nation

By: Alice Barr
By: Alice Barr

When we think of addictions, we usually think of cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. But those of us who depend upon a daily cup of coffee, may be nursing an addiction of our own and there are consequences to living in a caffeine nation.
Rockford resident Roger Stevens drinks at least two cups of coffee every morning and a few more in the afternoon.
Jeff Cihlar is a busy junior at Rockford College, but he's always got time for a cup of coffee and the occasional energy drink. He says, "Keeps me on my toes, keeps me ready to go, it helps me get through my day I guess."
Millions on that caffeine rush. Some say it's about the taste.
Aly Herbig, a Rockford College sophomore says it helps her focus, "Caffeine for me, it just helps me stay up and study and then I can get better grades."
Or are we physically addicted?
Sandy Revoredo says, "I have tried not drinking coffee in the morning and what happens is I get a terrible headache. That's definite withdrawl."
Megan Olson, a dietician from SwedishAmerican Hospital says headaches are a common sign of caffeien addiction. So why does it hook us?
Says Olson, "It releases adrenaline and the adrenaline rush is what causes us to feel good. That decreases our feeling of sleepy."
In today's fast-paced world it's not surprising that a quick buzz often replaces a night of good sleep. Sometimes we don't even have time to get out of our cars to get the rush.
Mary Hunter frequents the coffee shop drive-through. She says, "I got 3 kids and a full time job, so the drive through helped me get my caffeine a little quicker this morning."
Now options like caffeine pills and energy drinks offer even more buzz for your buck. Especially for the new generation of busy Americans.
Dan Sheets plays on the Rockford College football team on top of his full course load. He drinks enough caffeine to prove he's a busy kid. He says, "There have been times when I've drank maybe 5 energy drinks in a day."
Cihlar, his friend and co-teammate sometimes drinks energy drinks but he still worries about Dan's habit.
Says Cihlar, "That does not sound healthy to me at all. I don't know why their heart hasn't exploded or something like that."
That's taking it a bit far, but too much caffeine can hurt us. Olson says it can lead to heart disease, stomach problems, ulcers and anxiety and depression from being withdrawn from the caffeine the rest of the day.
Those health effects may only get worse, with the huge success of those ultra-caffeinated energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster.


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