Up, Up and Away You Go

Stimulant drug abuse and caffeine might be linked

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Coffee is one of the most popular pick me up drinks around. This drink may not be for everyone but it sure is causing a stir with researchers studying stimulant drugs.

Drugs that cause increased or improved attention, wakefulness or alertness are considered stimulants. Researchers found the caffeine found in coffee may be able to predict the behavior of adolescents towards other stimulant drugs.

"Ask your pharmacist or doctor about caffine and drug useage."

Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry from the University of Vermont College of Medicine and a drug abuse researcher, found that people respond differently to drugs. So it's important to understand the difference because these differences may be the key to determining whether a person is likely or unlikely to become a drug abuser, she says.

Dr. Sigmon and colleagues studied twenty two individuals for ten to fourteen weeks to examine whether or not a link between caffeine and stimulant use existed.

Individuals were assigned to two groups: caffeine "choosers" and caffeine "nonchoosers". Choosers were considered the ones who chose caffeine most of the time during a ten choice session and nonchoosers chose the placebo over caffeine.

After being separated into two groups, the same individuals received different amounts of d-amphetamine and were asked to rate this drug. d-amphetamine is a stimulant that has similar effects as cocaine.

The results showed caffeine choosers were more likely to report positive effects and fewer unpleasant effects to d-amphetamine than nonchoosers. This suggests that coffee lovers who drink coffee for the caffeine pick me up are more likely to also enjoy the positive effects of stimulant drugs, Dr. Sigmon says.

This of course doesn't mean that all coffee lovers are at risk for cocaine abusers, but more research is needed to determine if caffeine reinforcements can predict vulnerability to stimulant drug abuse, she adds.

This double-blind, placebo-controlled study is published in the November issue of the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence and was funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
October 10, 2011
Last Updated:
October 11, 2011