Abuse of Caffeine – Signs and Symptoms

Man explaining Addiction to Loved Ones while drinking coffee

From starting your day off with a cup of daily joe, meeting friends over lattes, or refilling your mug at the community coffee pot for a mid-day pick up, coffee and caffeine are an integral part of life for many. Countless individuals rely on some form of caffeine to get them through their overloaded day, whether from coffee, teas, energy drinks, shots, and various other caffeinated products.

Caffeine is indeed a staple in diets around the globe, as many people use this stimulant for energy or simply as a means of maintaining enough stamina to get through a demanding day.

The Statistics

According to the Health Research Funding website, 90 percent of people in the world consume at least one meal or beverage with caffeine in it daily [1].

Other facts about caffeine consumption have shown that the majority of caffeine consumers drink approximately 3.1 cups of coffee on a daily basis [1].

There is often a false misconception that because caffeinated products, such as coffee, teas, and energy drinks, are readily accessible, that this stimulant is harmless, even when ingested in large quantities. However, is there such as thing of caffeine abuse?


Many people can become reliant on caffeine to function “normally”, as this substance is quite addictive in itself. As the body adjusts to a certain level of caffeine intake, a person needs to either maintain the same amount or increase the amount of caffeine consumed in order to feel the stimulant effects of caffeine on the body.

For this reason, some people might find that they need to ingest greater quantities of caffeine after a while in order to feel more alert, energized, etc. Because the body can adjust to levels of consistent caffeine, it is also easy for the body to experience withdrawal effects from caffeine as well.

What to Look For

Various signs and symptoms can help a person better understand how dependent their body has become on caffeine and whether or not this substance is something that is perhaps being abused or misused.

Couple of young men talking on the stairs of an office

For example, a person who is addicted to caffeine cannot go 24 hours without consuming at least one caffeinated beverage.

An individual who is addicted to caffeine will likely begin to experience symptoms of caffeine withdrawal after not ingesting this stimulant within 24 hours, such as headaches, nausea, the inability to concentrate, shakiness, irritability and more.

If you begin experiencing these symptoms, this is a good indicator that your body has become dependent on caffeine.

Other individuals who might be withdrawing from caffeine may find that their mood is significantly altered if this stimulant is not regularly ingested. This might include increased anxiety and depression, which can be incredibly difficult to deal with.

In addition to symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, there are also indicators of caffeine abuse, or the consumption of more caffeine than the body can reasonably handle. These signs might include insomnia, nausea, vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, chest pains, tremors, palpitations, and neurological symptoms, all which can result in severe medical complications.

Mixing Caffeine

Combining caffeine with other substances, such as prescription drugs, alcohol, and other forms of dietary supplements can also be an indictor that caffeine is being abused and misused.

Couple having relationship problems, talking in a coffee shopAgain, it is easy to misunderstand the dangers of caffeine if misused due to widespread access of this substance and the common ways in which caffeine is integrated into people’s daily lives, but caffeine abuse is something that can easily occur and result in serious consequences.

If you have found yourself abusing or misusing caffeine in any form, it is important to seek out professional help and guidance for this. Attempt to abruptly quit caffeine can be extremely difficult for the body to manage, and it is important to have guidance in how to appropriately taper off caffeine.

This can be done with the help of a professional, such as a medical physician, who can recommend the most effective way for withdrawing from caffeine to minimize the side effects that might be experienced. Learning how to use caffeine moderately is important for maintaining health and wellness.


{1}: Health Research Funding, “24 Remarkable Caffeine Consumption Statistics”, http://healthresearchfunding.org/remarkable-caffeine-consumption-statistics/

Crystal Karges photo

About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on February 21, 2016
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.