Many people enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning as part of their daily routine. An intriguing new study has made the claim that peoples differing reactions to coffee and energy drinks could be a indication of their susceptibility to developing an addiction to stimulants.
Many of us have young children who enjoy cola drinks and as they grow up have the odd coffee here and there. Then of course there are the increasingly popular energy drinks that many teenagers love. Energy drinks appear to be the new way of getting a buzz for those too young to drink alcohol, but parents need to be aware that it’s not just the sugar in the aforementioned drinks that is creating a potential problem for youngsters.
A recent controlled study has shown that a person’s reaction to caffeine could predict how they will then go on to respond to other stimulants such as amphetamines and cocaine. Their reaction to caffeine can show how at risk they are of developing an addiction to stimulants later in life. Associate Professor of Chemistry Stacey Sigmon from the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine is a drug abuse researcher who has studied caffeine withdrawal in some depth alongside other studies focusing on the interactions between psychomotor stimulants and nicotine cessation.
Sigmon says, "People differ dramatically in how they respond to drugs. For example, a single dose of a drug can produce completely opposite effects in two people, with one absolutely loving and the other hating the drug's effects. It is important to improve our understanding of these differences, as they may reflect key individual differences in vulnerability or resilience for drug abuse". She has examined how certain responses seen in individuals may predict their reaction to other stimulants and tested the theory by comparing caffeine with d-amphetamine, which is a classic psychomotor stimulant that parallels many of the effects seen in commonly abused stimulants such as cocaine.
The study was run by Sigmon alongside Roland Griffiths, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. They claim their results are the first to show a direct link between a positive reaction to caffeine and the potential abuse of stimulant drugs in later life.
It is however important to keep the findings in perspective, according to Sigmon, "While this data does not mean that every coffee lover is at risk for proceeding to cocaine abuse this study does show that individuals vary markedly in their subjective and behavioural response to psychomotor stimulants, and those for whom a modest caffeine dose serves as a reinforcer are the same folks who subsequently report more positive subjective effects of d-amphetamine. Future research will be important to examine whether caffeine reinforcement predicts vulnerability to reinforcement and abuse of classic psychomotor stimulants such as amphetamine and cocaine."