Caffeinated Thinking

A Conversation with Murray Carpenter, Author of Caffeinated: How Our Daily Habit Helps, Hurts, and Hooks Us

Photo Credit: Untitled by Danielle Denham-Skinner

Peggy La Cerra: What percentage of Americans do you think are dependent on caffeine? Murray Carpenter: I think that we need more research in this area—and dependence can be a tricky term—but it looks like most people are going to experience some degree of withdrawal symptoms even at regular doses of 100 mg daily. So, if that’s the case then my guess is that more than 80 percent of the population is taking a daily dose sufficient to produce withdrawal symptoms if they quit caffeine abruptly.Do you think that it’s fair to say that we, the consumers, are self-deceptive about our caffeine consumption?Yes I do, and I think that it’s understandable in many ways. When we talk to our children about drugs, if nothing else we say, “You don’t want to be dependent upon a drug.” Use the term “dependent” or “addicted”—whatever, choose your term—most of us who are regular chronic caffeine consumers feel great when we take it, and we feel lousy when we don’t take it. It has many of the patterns of a drug of addiction. It’s easier to say, “Oh, I like my coffee,” or “I like my Diet Coke,” than to say, “It’s all about ca …

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