Students, staff weigh healthy balance of coffee drinking

Lots of high school students drink coffee, either before they leave the house or bringing it to school with them. With the amount of coffee that students consume on the daily, concerns are raised on the health effects of this behavior.  

Health teacher Jay Teply said, “What addiction is, is your body craves the feeling of a dopamine release, and that dopamine release can come from activities. It can come from substances, and that’s where a lot of people can think that they’re addicted to certain things, but what they are addicted to is the way their body adapts to that substance or activities. When it’s a caffeine addiction, what happens is that feeling that energy that they get from that caffeine when your body stops receiving that is when you start to get withdrawal symptoms of headaches, jitteriness, and mood swings.”

Junior Natalie Olsen said she thinks that she might be addicted to coffee based on what she has learned in AP psychology. “We were learning about the difference between physical dependency and an actual addiction in AP psych, and the difference is when it’s an addiction you’re aware of the negative consequences but still continue to have or do that thing you’re addicted to. I’m aware that maybe I shouldn’t be drinking this much coffee because it’s not that healthy and it’s expensive and can cause some issues later in life, but in my mind I’d rather have the coffee.” 

Coffee itself is not the issue, but rather the things people put into their coffee. “So black coffee by itself is inherently not bad for you, and the amount of caffeine you get from one black coffee is not going to hurt you if you do like one black coffee a day, but when you start adding the creamers and the sugars and all those things to it, that’s when people start to see those negative health effects of gaining weight and diabetes,” Teply said. Many Students don’t drink black coffee. In the Tiger’s den students will often add sweeteners to their drink. 

“A lot of people don’t enjoy the taste of a black coffee, but some people might hear that it helps you if you’re tired, so they might be intrigued by that, but I really think people enjoy carrying around the Starbucks or the Scooters or the Sidecar coffee drinks,” Teply said. He said he sees the increase in coffee consumption among teens as a fad. 

For Olsen, coffee was a way to deal with mornings that was suggested by her mom. “I started drinking coffee in the mornings in fourth grade because I started getting grumpy in the mornings, and according to my mom the same thing happened with her, so she was prepared and started giving me coffee in the morning basically being like ‘Here, try this. It’s magical.’”

Both student and teacher agree that in small doses, coffee can be a wonderful way to get energy and dopamine. Teply “had a professor in college who used to encourage drinking some form of caffeine before an exam because it stimulates your mind a little bit. You need to make sure you understand how many grams of caffeine you are getting and keep it in that healthy range of 200 a day.” 

In Olsen’s case, she uses coffee as medication for her ADHD. She said, “I have decently bad diagnosed ADHD, and I use caffeine as medication, so if I don’t get it, I’m not able to pay attention as well and all my brain chemicals get messed up and I’m super exhausted’; however, I’m a pretty good student even if I don’t get my coffee.”

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