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The Orion

Coffee high

Photo credit: Dongyoung Won

Just take a look around campus on any given morning. Lattes, cold brews and iced coffees. Students line up like zombies just to get their morning fix. No matter how they are consumed, these drinks are feeding a bigger problem: outrageously high caffeine tolerances among college students.

This is not just an issue in Chico, it is a national problem. More than half of Americans over the age of 18 consume coffee daily.

The question becomes, why do college students rely so much on coffee?

There are high amounts of pressure put on the students today to gain an upper-hand. Since most students take, on average, between 12-16 units a week on top of work, they are very busy. Not to mention the hours on hours of homework and the pressure to socialize. There is simply not enough time during the day.

Students use coffee as a way to get quick and reliable energy. The problem is that many do not consider how expensive this habit can be over time.

Personally, I became hooked on the cold brew coffee at Common Grounds during the fall semester. I was mindlessly spending at least $3 a day on these drinks. Ultimately I was dropping over $100 a month just to feed my addiction. Within a few months I was a hardcore caffeine junkie and there was no turning back.

Coffee shops like Starbucks put in an extreme effort to create an atmosphere that encourages the consumer to stay for long periods of time. The culture regarding coffee shops as a place to chat, discuss issues and do work, has spread quickly among younger generations.

Students go to these places to do homework and use their free Wi-Fi. As a result, they consume more caffeinated drinks than they normally would just to stay occupied.

These places hide their caffeine under layers of sugar and artificial flavoring. Not only are people drinking a sweet drink, but they are digesting lots of caffeine and slowly building up a tolerance.

The person wearing the sweater that says, “Instant human just add coffee” is not joking.

Once the tolerance is built, it is very difficult to quit. Caffeine withdrawal is recognized in the DSM-5 as a legitimate disorder. A person addicted to caffeine may experience nausea, sluggishness and headaches until they consume it.

Students that are on a budget eventually find themselves enslaved to spending upwards of $3 a day to just avoid these symptoms.

Initially used as a pick-me-up in the morning, it becomes necessary to consume coffee to do anything at all. It is a cycle that is easy to enter and nearly impossible to get out of.

Coffee is made widely available on campus. It can be purchased at Butte Station, Holt Station, the Wildcat Store, Common Grounds and Creekside Coffee, along with numerous coffee shops flooding the streets of Downtown Chico.

There is so much emphasis placed on the consumption of coffee. Rarely is there education regarding the dangers of coffee’s addiction and how devastating it can be to a broke college student.

Students should look through the many alternatives to getting energy that carry no side effects.

Sleep is especially important since most college students are still developing mentally. In no way should coffee replace sleep. Prioritize your schedule so you have time to get 8-10 hours a night.

Try substituting lemon juice in water in place of coffee. It will give you the boost that you are looking for and is in no way addictive.

Those that are deep in the cycle of this addiction should reduce their caffeine intake over time. It is not a problem that can be easily lost, but it very well can be dropped if enough energy is put toward recovery.

Students need to consider whether this temporary pleasure is worth the long-term effects.

Sam Rios can be reached at [email protected] or @theeemessiahon Twitter.

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