Caffeine buzz



I once startled a doctor who was giving me a routine job physical when he asked me whether I had any addictions. Without hesitation, I replied with an emphatic, “Yes! To caffeine!”

He looked at me like I was nuts. I am, according to the revised edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which warns of caffeine withdrawal. …

It’s not that I drink cup after cup after cup all day long. I don’t. I don’t suffer from the symptoms of caffeine intoxication long recognized by the DSM, such as the jitters, insomnia, bouncing my leg constantly. That’s Mr. Tippity-Tap who used to sit in the next cubicle at work.

One espresso — wrapped in frothy milk — is my morning fix. Make mine a double, barista.

I mean fix. I need my coffee. Without it, I’m three of the seven dwarfs: sleepy, grumpy and dopey. I could have written the DSM-5 entry for caffeine withdrawal: three of five symptoms within 24 hours of stopping or reducing caffeine intake (headache, drowsiness, irritability, difficulty concentrating).

Yikes. Sounds awful. But a mental illness?

Alan Budney, a member of the DSM-5 Substance-Related Disorders Work Group, told the Wall Street Journal that for caffeine withdrawal to be considered a disorder it would  impair your ability to function.

So make an appointment with a doctor. Or you could just enjoy another cuppa with a beautiful crema.

Why fight it. Coffee drinking has been celebrated for centuries. It first spread thanks to Arab traders. Forbidden alcohol by the Koran, the Muslims embraced the stimulating nature of coffee and of conversation in coffee houses. When the Ottoman Empire introduced coffee to Europe, in a short time it became so popular that Pope Clement VIII (1536-1605) was asked to ban the Muslim drink, according to “Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World” by Mark Pendergrast. But first, the pontiff had to take a sip.

“Why, this Satan’s drink is so delicious,” Clement reputedly exclaimed, “that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall fool Satan by baptizing it and making it a truly Christian beverage.”

– M.S. Scully