Quinn Deahl a junior at Prairie High sat in 1st period and sipped her coffee. Depending on what month it was it could have been her 4th or 5th cup of the morning already, or only her 2nd cup. That’s because earlier this year Quinn recognized that she had a caffeine addiction, an addiction that isn’t surprising at all when it comes to teens.
For Quinn, it all began her sophomore year, “I started getting really into coffee because of the late nights that I’ve spent doing homework and just not getting enough sleep. It started out as about one cup a day for the first few months and then by the end of sophomore year I got to about 3 cups a day.”
Her coffee intake didn’t just stop at 3 cups, as the pressure increased so did the caffeine. “Starting my junior year, when my courses got a lot more rigorous, it got up to 5 cups a day.”
Thankfully Quinn’s mom noticed how much coffee her daughter was drinking and cut her off, unfortunately that resulted in a horrible day for Quinn. “It was probably the first day I hadn’t had coffee in at least a year, closer to 2 probably. That day I woke up and I was exhausted when I got to school, I was in a very bad mood, and I also just felt a little funny. It just felt like I couldn’t function, I guess. I didn’t see things as clearly as I usually did and I wasn’t able to focus on my work, or focus on even having a simple conversation.”
Anyone who knows Quinn, knows she’s a smart and driven student, so not being able to focus meant that something was wrong. Drowsiness, irritability, and general confusion are all symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. But the killer headache is what got to Quinn the most.
“Midday I started to get a really bad headache and it got to the point in the afternoon where my vision was all black around the edges because my head hurt so bad, all because I hadn’t had caffeine that day.” Eventually Quinn got her hands on a hot cup of joe, from a teacher’s Keurig no less, and the headache dissipated. After that experience, Quinn’s eyes were opened to the very real problem of having too much caffeine.
Since that fateful day she had learned to cut back, “I’ve very slowly limited my consumption from 5 cups a day to like 4 the next week, then 3 the next week, and now I’m back at 2 cups.” Quinn’s learned the harsh reality of caffeine, but every other caffeine consuming teen should know the risks as well.
While popular and legal all throughout the world, caffeine is actually classified as a psychoactive drug. Caffeine is a stimulant, which is a type of drug that increases activity in the body, giving you that energy boost.
Though an energy boost is a great way to stay focused during school, keep in mind the tale of Quinn Deahl. Too much caffeine, and/or withdrawal can result in various side effects like headaches, drowsiness, increased heart rate, anxiety, irritability, nausea, and trouble sleeping.
Caffeine is found in many drinks, coffee, tea, soda, and energy drinks – all of which are very popular with teenagers (coffee and energy drinks at the top). However many people don’t actually know how much caffeine is safe to drink in a day.
According to the FDA the teenagers should only consume around 100 mg of caffeine in a day, compared to adults with up to 300 or 400 mg. Seems a little unfair, but try to keep in mind that as teenagers our brains and bodies are still developing and too much caffeine can screw it up.
So you might be wondering, well how much is 100mg of caffeine? It equates to about one cup of coffee, one Kickstart, or half of a Red Bull. So if you want to play it safe and avoid caffeine addiction, maybe only get one Kickstart from the vending machine, or only one cappuccino from the Novel Cup.
So next time you find yourself craving a cup coffee, remember Quinn and tally up how many cups you’ve already had – to see if you might be overdoing it with the caffeine.