Coffee and the high schooler

The coffee industry worldwide is worth $20 billion dollars as we drink 500 billion cups of coffee a year. According to medicalnewstoday.com, teens are the “fastest growing population of caffeine users” since 82.3% of them drink coffee/caffeinated beverages on a regular basis. In my own poll of 73 students, 40% of them said they drink coffee regularly. 

So why is coffee such an elixir? Why is this beverage such a staple in people’s lives? I also took a survey trying to figure out why high school students drink it daily. I got three consistent answers: it tastes good, it wakes them up, and the biggest one: addiction. 

Caffeine is a stimulant for the central nervous system. If taken daily, the brain can “develop dependence quite quickly” because of “chemical changes that sustained consumption produces in the brain” (addictioncenter.com). In one cup of coffee (8 fl oz), there are 95 mg of caffeine. In the survey, a few students describe what happens if they don’t get their daily cup. 

“I’ll vomit profusely,” says one. 

“I get headaches and feel agitated without it,” another adds. Headaches and irritability are common in caffeine withdrawals. Nausea, low energy, and depressed mood are other frequent symptoms. 

Though the NIDA doesn’t classify caffeine as an addiction, the dependency is certainly there. Keeping your coffee sporadic instead of daily is a good way to avoid this dependence. 

Coffee is all around us, though. If you take a closer look, coffee places like Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, and even McDonald’s are on every corner. Keurigs and coffee pots are easily accessible in waiting rooms, lounges, and in the household. Coffee companies and producers are creative in their marketing and in their flavors; places like Starbucks are known for creating almost any coffee drink you can think of and their seasonal drinks for the summer and winter months. Not to mention that the drinks are chock-full of sugar and leave us itching for the taste of a sugary, unique drink. 

Coffee isn’t all that bad, though. If had in moderation, it’s proven by Harvard studies that it can reduce the risk of things like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and cirrhosis. Coffee is also a good source of antioxidants, potassium, and riboflavin, especially if taken black. 

In short, java seems to be a staple in teens’ lives. In moderation, coffee can be good to wake you up and even get some nutrients in you. If drunk excessively, though, coffee can lead to dependence issues. Think of the statistics next time you drive through a Starbucks or pour a cup in the doctor’s office waiting room!

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