Alcohol is a depressant – caffeine a stimulant. Both are addicting substances by themselves. Together they have very harmful effects on the body.
After a long night of heavy drinking, it seems natural to reach for a cup of coffee in the morning to sober up and be able to function for the rest of the day.
Recent studies of the combined effects of caffeine and alcohol have been published by Marina Kushner, founder of the Caffeine Awareness Alliance a non- profit organization educating the public on the dangers of caffeine dependency. The studies show that the stimulating effects of caffeine will not counter the lethargic and drowsy effects of alcohol.
This belief was established on the assumption that the effects of alcohol and caffeine on the central nervous system are opposing.
The assumption that caffeine will help someone sober up is misguided. sobering up requires lowering the level of alcohol in the blood stream. Alcohol must work its way out of the blood stream by absorption or excretion.
According to Kushner, “The alertness that caffeine provided can make people feel like they have sobered up and gives them the incentive to do certain things they should not do when drunk. For example, this false sense of alertness and wakefulness will make someone feel that they are sober enough to drive,” said Kushner. “When taken together caffeine and alcohol increase heart rate.”
While caffeine does not alter the effects of alcohol on the body, the presence of both substances affects the absorption and metabolism functions of the body, leading to higher levels of caffeine in the blood stream and longer lasting effects of caffeine on the central nervous system.
Molson Canada, Labatts Breweries and Budweiser have all introduced beers with a new mood-altering stimulant, caffeine, which has side effects of increased blood pressure, frequent urination, increased heart rate, anxiety, nervousness, restlessness, jitteriness and an upset stomach.
“It’s bad enough that alcohol can be addicting on its own. Caffeine addiction can make matters worse,” said Kushner who started a non- profit business based on the idea of educating the public on the dangers of caffeine dependency.
Students at Quinnipiac University and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania are helping to spend the world about the dangers of caffeine dependency.
“We are very grateful for the insightful information provided by the students,” Kushner said. “The research the students conducted revealed how widespread the use of this drug is on college campuses.”
“I used to be a coffee drinker, but found myself too dependent on it in the morning, so I made the switch and immediately felt better. I no longer had headaches, and had more natural energy in the morning,” Richard Martira, a Quinnipiac intern for the Caffeine Awareness Alliance, said.
Kushner also hopes to educate students in making more informed choices when they are most prone to abusing caffeine. “Focus groups conducted by the students found concern about the health risk,” Kushner said.
Kushner has also invented the coffee replacement beverage, Soyfee. Her caffeine-free, naturally-flavored soy coffees made from roasted bioengineered soybeans are available through her Web site www.soyfee.com.
To learn more about caffeine addiction and dependency, visit Marina Kushner’s Web site www.caffeineawarness.org, or purchase her book, “Life With Out Caffeine- How Eliminating Caffeine Addiction Can Save Your Life,” to learn more about the health benefits of a caffeine-free lifestyle.