No, Students Should Not Rely on Caffeine

By Catherine Wang (II), Staff Writer

Caffeine has long been a staple of many Americans’ morning routine. A rich cup of coffee poured into a ceramic mug gives most people the extra burst of energy needed to get out the door in the morning. In addition to the classic cup of coffee, a greater variety of energy beverages came into the marketplace, including 5-hour Energy and Red Bull, as well as an array of specialty coffees, all of which have contributed to the long-running caffeine craze.

With a surge of caffeine addicts over the last century, America is literally “running on Dunkin’” — and so are many Boston Latin School students. Though caffeine is key to many students’ ability to get through the day, the long-term effects are detrimental to one’s health, and the benefits are short-lived.

Caffeine can stunt growth of a maturing adolescent brain, exacerbate feelings of anxiety and even worsen pre-existing medical conditions. It can also cause students to lose much-needed sleep, in turn affecting their overall health. As young adults undergo growth, it is crucial for them to maintain a balanced routine and develop healthy habits. They should not need to rely on their daily dose of caffeine to get through the day.

Teenagers are especially susceptible to caffeine trends; caffeine is an addictive drug that is easy to become dependent on, especially with the now-popularized aesthetic of the beverages in cute plastic cups. A huge factor of why teenagers are drawn to caffeinated beverages is due to the successful marketing of several coffee companies such as Starbucks, whose themed drinks and pretty toppings are especially appealing.

Though caffeine has risen to popularity around the world, Americans tend to abuse the substance. According to, 68 million Americans drink at least three cups of coffee every day. About 75 percent of Americans who regularly consume caffeine are addicted, meaning that they will experience withdrawals from the substance if they do not get their daily intake. This is not healthy, and as most of those who consume it will likely admit, they’d be better off trying to maintain a strong sleep schedule and other self-care steps.

The drug confuses the body’s chemical balance by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain, which prevents one from falling asleep. Caffeine also impacts our circadian rhythm by affecting melatonin, which confuses our biological clock. For students with developing bodies, this is detrimental as it may cause us to lag behind in our daily responsibilities and cause the body to slowly deteriorate. It is important, therefore, to maintain a balance, because it grounds us in reality and allows us to be the most productive, healthy version of ourselves.

Caffeine also causes a jittery sensation, making its consumer anxious and sweaty by activating the fight-or-flight response in the body, known as the sympathetic nervous system. In the long-term, the sensation can increase baseline anxiety and the likelihood of panic attacks.

A long-term caffeine addiction will ultimately result in an immunity to its benefits, rendering it ineffective over a longer span of time and leaving an addict with all of the health perils and none of the short-term energy boosts.

Caffeine, like most things, should be taken in moderation. At times, caffeine can give you energy when you need it most, but a habitual caffeine addiction will eventually lead to severe health impacts. It is important to know your body and remain aware of your consumption habits, making for a healthier and more ethical body and world. Instead of reaching for a Red Bull next time you’re thinking about pulling an all-nighter, students should consider caffeine’s potential adverse effects.