Clinical importance of caffeine dependence and abuse

Authors

  • NAOSHI OGAWA md ,

    Corresponding author
    1. Gifu Hospital, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, and
    2. Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Gifu University School of Medicine, Gifu Japan
      Naoshi Ogawa, MD, Gifu Hospital, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Hinohigashi 3-13-6, Gifu-shi, Gifu 500–8211 Japan. Email: ogawa88@ccn3.aitai.ne.jp
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  • HIROFUMI UEKI md

    1. Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Gifu University School of Medicine, Gifu Japan
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Naoshi Ogawa, MD, Gifu Hospital, Department of Neurology and Psychiatry, Hinohigashi 3-13-6, Gifu-shi, Gifu 500–8211 Japan. Email: ogawa88@ccn3.aitai.ne.jp

Abstract

Abstract  Caffeine is the most widely consumed psychoactive substance and is a legal stimulant that is readily available to children. Caffeine has occasionally been considered a drug of abuse and the potential for dependence on caffeine has been debated. Presently, due to a paucity of clinical evidence on caffeine dependence or abuse, no such diagnosis is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder–fourth edition. The authors present two cases of abuse or dependence on the caffeine contained in ‘eutrophic’ (energy/nutritional) beverages or caffeine preparations, followed by a review of clinical studies demonstrating evidence that some people can manifest a clinical syndrome of caffeine dependence or abuse. The cases suggest that caffeine can produce a clinical dependence syndrome similar to those produced by other psychoactive substances and has a potential for abuse. In a recent study using a structured interview and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder–fourth edition criteria for substance dependence and abuse, a subset of the general population was found to demonstrate caffeine dependence or caffeine abuse. Therefore, the authors propose that companies or businesses manufacturing or marketing caffeine or products containing caffeine must meet the following guidelines: (i) clearly indicate the caffeine content of products containing comparatively higher quantities of caffeine; (ii) warn that such products should be avoided by infants and children wherever possible, and inform adult consumers about the precise quantity of caffeine that is considered safe for consumption; and (iii) clearly state that consuming large quantities of caffeine and the long-term use of caffeine carry health risks.

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