Coffee Addiction


The strawberry acai refresher from Starbucks. Photo by Julia Gerard

Julia Gerard, News Editor

Senior Kotryna Rutkauskas starts her day with a venti iced caramel macchiato with cinnamon dolce syrup. Senior Angelia Pardo does her homework with a grande iced vanilla latte. Senior Lindsey McDonald likes to bring a grande caramel cream cold brew with her to work. Early morning coffee runs are a must for many students. Is there such a thing as too much coffee?

According to a survey of 114 North students, 39.5 percent drink six or more caffeinated beverages on average per week. The most popular caffeinated drinks in the US are soda and coffee according to

“I normally drink coffee from Dunkin around four times a week,” senior Sam Skiba said. “My go-to drink is a large, iced coffee with mocha and milk. It gets me through the day.”

But just how popular is coffee when it comes to frequent caffeine drinkers? Rutkauskas takes note of how many regulars since she began working at Starbucks. 

“We have at least 20 regulars stopping in every day,” Rutkauskas said. “They typically come five to seven days a week and usually get the same thing.”

Since Rutkauskas has started working at, she admits that she has been drinking more coffee. She likes to try out new drinks as well. 

“I find myself drinking way more coffee than I should be now that I work here,” Rutkauskas said. “There are so many drinks to try, and I find myself taking advantage of that.” 

According to Dr.  Elizabeth Hartney from, caffeine is the most used drug in the world. Many people fail to recognize it as one, but it is highly addictive, and people keep coming back for more. Caffeine is a stimulant that can boost one’s mood and metabolism as well as increase focus. 

“I like to drink coffee because it improves my mood,” senior Angelina Pardo said. “It also helps me stay awake during the day and helps me focus in school.”

People tend to fall into a caffeine “upkeep” trap because of the tolerance they build up for it, just like someone who consumes drugs or alcohol. This happens because of chemical changes in the brain when it is consumed in large amounts. 

When caffeine turns problematic is when it disrupts your life in a negative way, yet you’re unable to stop consuming it,” Hartney said. “Or you consume it in amounts that are potentially dangerous to your health despite knowing that it may be harming you mentally or physically.” 

Caffeine addiction is not a medically diagnosed condition, but there are mental health concerns revolving around the issue. It has similar symptoms to many mental illnesses. 

“Caffeine use disorder refers to a disruptive, problematic pattern of caffeine use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress,” said Drs. Steven Pennybaker and Roland R. Griffiths in conjunction with John Hopkins Medicine. “Common features of the disorder include overuse, inability to quit, withdrawal symptoms, craving, tolerance and continuing to use despite problems.”

Caffeine consumption goes hand in hand with several mental issues. It can be especially bad when it becomes something that one heavily depends upon. 

As with all addictions, the pleasurable effects of caffeine can also sometimes mask other issues,” Hartney said. “Lack of energy and depression may underlie caffeine addiction. People may rely on caffeine to compensate for sleep disorders.”

Once withdrawal symptoms are recognized, it’s good to monitor one’s caffeine intake. Keeping a record of how much one is drinking is key. 

Instead of cutting your caffeine intake abruptly, try reducing your regular intake by about 10% every two weeks,” Hartney said. “One way to do this is to reduce the strength of your caffeinated drinks by diluting them with a decaffeinated version.”

Coffee is prevalent in many people’s lives from what gets them up in the morning to what keeps them functioning throughout the day.

I drink coffee every day,” PE teacher Callie Kneip said. “Sometimes twice a day.”