Coffee addiction may be psychological disorder

By Crystal Chen, Associate Producer, The Morning Show, cchen@wjxt.com
Published On: Jun 09 2014 08:52:51 AM EDT
Updated On: Jun 09 2014 08:53:17 AM EDT

Daisy Dumas/CNNGo

You want to cut back on caffeine, but you can't - even if your doctor says you have to.

Now, new research is saying that dependence on caffeine is not just a physical issue... it could be affecting us psychologically.

Jessica Hayes starts her day with a jolt of java and often refuels throughout the day.

"I feel like it helps me be more productive," she says.

Even if she's running late for work, she says she can't forgo a cup of Joe.

"I'll call my boss and say 'I'm so sorry I slept through my alarm. I'll be there soon,' but really I'm going through a drive-through. And then you can't walk into work late with, you know, coffee that you just bought, so I'll just drink it really fast in the car."

A caffeine researcher, Professor Laura Juliano, says that caffeine reliance could be a psychological problem for some people. It's being called Caffeine Use Disorder.

"Caffeine use disorder is having physical dependence, but in addition to physical dependence, some sort of harm because of the, the drug caffeine, as well as an inability to stop using it when someone wants to or when they're advised by a medical provider to do so." Juliano adds that even though it's not an official diagnosis, caffeine use disorder was included as a condition for further study in the American Psychiatric Association's latest diagnostic and statistical manual of medical disorders… or DSM.

Professor Juliano says she's seen cases where caffeine users have sought treatment.

"It would be beneficial if, if treatment guidelines were developed in the same way they we've developed them for tobacco. People have come to us saying yes please help me, I believe my caffeine use is problematic." Juliano adds that she is researching potential treatment practices, which might include face-to-face counseling.

If you're looking to cut down on caffeine … even if you don't think you've got a disorder, experts have this advice: "You should try reducing it gradually, not stop it abruptly. Tell yourself the reasons why you're changing your caffeine use. Remind yourself when you're having a urge, or when you're thinking about using more than you should."

In terms of how many people might be affected with this potential disorder, Professor Juliano says more research is needed.  

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