Youth and Caffeine Consumption

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Youth and Caffeine Consumption

In today’s world, children are consuming more caffeine than ever. There is a plethora of energy drinks, soda, and coffee available to youth all over the United States. It is no surprise that caffeine is the most abused stimulant.

The fact that not only adults, but often children and teens, can’t start their morning off without a jolt of caffeine worries scientists and the general public. Scientists wonder what will happen to adolescents who begin consuming caffeine at a young age. Numerous studies have been done on this topic, and some have linked caffeine consumption at a young age to a likeliness to use illicit drugs as an adult. But none have looked at this long-term.

A study recently published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology reported on the long-term effects of caffeine consumption in young adults and how it affected their brains into adulthood. One important point the researchers made was that an adolescent brain responds very differently to caffeine than an adult brain. It seems to act more potent, giving a harsher response. This may be due to the fact that the brain is still developing.

The research showed that consuming the caffeine during youth altered the brain’s chemistry. Therefore, if and when they tried illicit drugs as an adult, they would have an enhanced effect. However, adults who did not begin consuming caffeine until adulthood had a different reaction. Their brain chemistry was not altered and therefore illicit drug use was not enhanced.

Some say because of these results that caffeine could be considered a gateway drug.