Help necessary for caffeine addictions

Kori Price

Drink coffee throughout the day?

Crave chocolate candies and a never-ending supply of soft drinks?

Ever try to cut back on your caffeine intake and experience withdrawal that include headaches, irritability or increased anxiety?

If you answered yes to any, or all, of these questions then you may be addicted to caffeine.

Caffeine is an under-the-radar stimulant drug is lives in the same category as cocaine and amphetamines. I know this because I was addicted to caffeine.

Two years ago, I suffered from a serious case of Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, better known as TMJ, which causes pain with the movement of the jaw and surrounding muscles while making the mouth's proper functions very difficult.

When I was experiencing a caffeine overdose, which was often, I would unconsciously clench my jaw and grind my teeth together at all hours of the day and night.

Eventually, my jaw lost complete function, and I was unable to open my mouth to eat. I decided to visit a dentist who revealed the shocking news.

"You drink far too much coffee," said Dr. Finger, my trusted dentist at the University Health Center.

At first, I was in complete denial, but I lessened my usual six cups to two.

Although my jaw may have healed, the rest of my life began to feel like a downward spiral - headaches, mood swings, shaky hands and, the most ironic, fatigue and insomnia. It was bad.

But it was also a blessing in disguise because I was able to put a stop to a addiction that some people live with their whole lives without knowing.

For most college students, there is an increased level of anxiety due to our demanding schedules - schoolwork, part-time jobs and trying to manage a social life. It seems that caffeine is the only thing in our lives we do not moderate and all it does is increase our anxiety, which leads to even greater stress.

It is a catch-22 in that we use caffeine to make up for a sleep deficit that is largely caused by caffeine, reported National Geographic article.

Angela Ruhlen, a nutritionist at the University Health Center said, "One of the most troubling effects of excessive caffeine consumption is sleep disturbance, which causes drowsiness and a lack of concentration the next day - grades may begin to drop, and if you are involved in sports, your performance may worsen."

However, Ruhlen suggests weaning off caffeine slowly and decreasing the amount of caffeine consumed by one-half a cup daily.

You don't have to rule out caffeine completely because in moderation, it can be very helpful.

I still drink two cups a day in order to cure those occasional heavy eyelids.

So, next time you find yourself reaching for that extra boost of caffeine, instead take a 20-minute power nap or do a handstand against a wall.

I guarantee that immediate blood rush to the brain is much less addictive, much less expensive, but just as powerful as that cup of java.

-Kori Price is a alumna from Glenns Ferry, Idaho

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