Should caffeine be considered in addiction prevention? - Caffeine as a threat to (psychological) health

  • W. Beiglboeck


Caffeine is the most frequently consumed psychoactive substance worldwide. Almost 80-90% of adults consume caffeine daily. It is the only addictive substance that can be sold almost everywhere and with almost no legal restrictions. The consumption of Energy Drinks with a high caffeine content not only lead to a higher intake of alcohol, they also mask the neurotoxic effects of alcohol. Still, there are very few studies on the psychological processes behind this consumption. Nor does caffeine consumption play any significant role in prevention, although withdrawal symptoms and tolerance as well as the anxiogenic effect are undisputed. Two studies are presented, that tried to validate the concept of expectations placed in caffeine – a concept that is uncontested in the prevention and treatment of other addictions – using a German-language version of the Caffeine Expectancy Questionnaire and a random sample of n=332 subjects from Austria, Switzerland and Germany and compared them with a random sample of n=92 alcoholics. In a second survey the caffeine consumption of health professionals (n=127) has been investigated in relation to burn-out symptoms. Alcoholics not only consume significantly more caffeine, they also have different expectations of caffeine. The second study demonstrated that health professionals (n=127) have a higher risk to develop a caffeine addiction than general population and showed weak but significant correlations between caffeine consumption and burn-out symptoms. This results support, the notion to include the caffeine, or caffeine expectations respectively, into prevention programs.
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