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Statistics on Caffeine Addiction
With so many products boasting high caffeine content, it’s unsurprising that caffeine is the most popular drug in the world. Caffeine is safe to consume at recommended dosages but can cause issues with sleep, digestion, and overall mental well-being.
Understanding how caffeine affects different ages, races, and genders is essential to ensuring you use caffeine safely and avoid withdrawal or intoxication.
Quick Facts About Caffeine
Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world. However, whether or not caffeine addiction exists is still under debate. On the other hand, caffeine dependence is quite common, and many caffeine users may experience withdrawal symptoms when quitting abruptly or “cold turkey.”
Here are some basic facts about caffeine consumption in the US:
- Research from the Sleep Foundation reports that around 94% of surveyed American adults drink caffeinated beverages, with 64% drinking them daily.
- According to the University of Washington, U.S. adults consume an average of 135 mg of caffeine daily, or the amount in 1.5 cups of coffee.
- A Sleep Foundation survey found that 51% of people most often enjoy coffee, with soda (28%), tea (10%), and energy drinks (7%) following in popularity.
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers 400 milligrams (about 4 cups of brewed coffee) a safe amount of caffeine for healthy adults to consume daily. The recommended dose for ages four to six is 45 mg; for ages seven to nine, it is 62.5 mg; for ages 10 to 12, it is 85 mg; and for teens, it is 100 mg.
- Although there is no official diagnosis for caffeine addiction in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition), proposed criteria for caffeine use disorder are currently under review.
- Sleep problems such as daytime sleepiness, fatigue, insomnia, and mental health issues tend to affect caffeine drinkers more than non-caffeine drinkers.
What We Know About Caffeine Addiction by Group
Caffeine addiction’s existence may be under debate, but the health effects of caffeine and physical dependence on it certainly are not. Because it is the most popular stimulant worldwide, research on caffeine intake is quite robust.
Caffeine Addiction Statistics by Age
Adults make up the majority of caffeine users in the US, although many children and adolescents consume caffeine through soft drinks and chocolate.
There are no statistics available on caffeine addiction, but we do have a clear picture of widespread caffeine use among different age groups.
- The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports that caffeine consumption on a given day was less common among persons aged 2–5 years (60.8%) compared with those aged 6–11 years (73.9%) and those aged 12–19 years (73.2%).
- Caffeine intake is highest in adults aged 50-64 years.
According to a study from the Institute of Medicine in Washington, DC, the proportion of the population consuming caffeine ranged from:
- 43% of children 2 to 5 years of age
- 63% of children 6 to 12 years of age
- 83.2% of teens 13 to 17 years of age
- 85.8% of young adults 18 to 24 years of age
- 87.2% of adults 25 to 24 years of age
- 92.1% of adults 35 to 49 years of age
- 93.3% of adults 50 to 64 years of age
- 99.6% of adults 65 years of age or higher
Caffeine Addiction Statistics by Race
There is no data available specifically for caffeine addiction by race, but there is research on the amount of caffeine consumed by race.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) indicates the following average doses of caffeine among each race:
- Non-Hispanic black individuals consumed the smallest amounts at 802 mg per day
- Non-Hispanic white individuals consumed the greatest amounts at 1,943 mg per day
- Asian individuals consumed 1,267 mg per day
- Hispanic individuals consumed 1,273 mg per day
Caffeine Addiction Statistics by Gender
Overall, caffeine use between men and women is relatively the same. There is no current data on rates of caffeine addiction by gender. However, there is some variance regarding preferred caffeinated products or effects.
- Data from a study at Virginia Commonwealth University indicates that while women reported significantly more caffeine use than men, men reported more energy drink use.
- According to research from Dankook University in Korea, the risk of addiction to caffeinated drinks was 1.97 times higher among men than among women.
- In a study on caffeine effects from the University at Buffalo, there were gender differences in cardiovascular side effects of caffeine. Males had greater decreases in heart rate after caffeine than females, but females showed greater increases in blood pressure than males after caffeine.
Health Statistics About Caffeine Addiction
Unlike other stimulants, the adverse effects of caffeine seldom cause serious health problems on their own. However, because of caffeine’s effect on the central nervous system, caffeine can worsen existing mental health issues or impairments.
For individuals with a past of substance abuse, caffeine may worsen the desire to seek out stimulant drugs like amphetamines. Caffeine withdrawal is a very common condition for individuals who take high doses of caffeine.
Thankfully, common caffeine withdrawal symptoms like headaches, flu-like symptoms, difficulty concentrating, and drowsiness typically only last a few days.
- The University of Florida reports that those who met the criteria for caffeine dependence had high rates (63%) of past substance use disorders, with 57% reporting past alcohol abuse or dependence.
- In a survey from the Sleep Foundation, 30% of caffeine drinkers experienced higher anxiety, 31% experienced insomnia, and 13% experienced headaches.
According to The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, physical and psychological problems attributed to caffeine include:
- Trouble falling or staying asleep (36%)
- Feeling very anxious or depressed mood (19%)
- Stomach problems (16%)
- Fast or irregular heartbeat or chest pain (11%)
- Feeling irritable or angry (10%)
Find Help for Caffeine Addiction and Dependence
Although caffeine use is very common, many underestimate how quickly dependence on caffeine can develop. If you or a loved one has concerns about caffeine use or worrying symptoms caused by caffeine, now is the time to address them.
You can start by speaking with your healthcare provider about your symptoms to determine the best path forward for your caffeine usage.
FAQs About Caffeine Addiction Statistics
What percentage of the population is addicted to caffeine?
It’s difficult to say how many people have caffeine addiction, as the American Psychiatric Association does not formally recognize the condition. However, caffeine dependence is well-documented.
While there’s no broad percentage of caffeine dependence in the US population, smaller studies have been conducted. According to a study conducted by the University of Florida, 28% fulfilled the criteria for caffeine dependence compared to 50% for alcohol and 80% for nicotine.
What amount of caffeine does the average person drink daily?
The average healthy adult in the US consumes about 135 mg of caffeine daily, or the amount in 1.5 cups of coffee. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 400 mg (about 4 cups of brewed coffee) for healthy adults to consume daily.
What is the average age for a person's first caffeine addiction?
There is no data regarding the average age of caffeine addiction. However, data suggests that children as young as two years old will have some form of caffeine due to the fact that caffeine is a naturally occurring drug in many foods and drinks.
Adults aged 35 and up tend to have the highest rates of caffeine consumption, typically through coffee, tea, energy drinks, supplements, and even over-the-counter medications.
How much caffeine is considered safe?
It’s recommended that adults do not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine on a daily basis. Amounts higher than 400 mg are not considered safe and could cause caffeine intoxication or overdose.
Signs of caffeine overdose include:
- Increased thirst
If the following severe signs of caffeine overdose are present, seek immediate medical attention:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest pain
- Irregular or fluttering heartbeat
- Uncontrollable muscle movements
- Hallucinations or delusions