WASHINGTON (CBS DC) – A new study has found that more people are dependent on caffeine to the point experts are issuing a “caffeine use disorder” warning.

The study, coauthored by American University psychology professor Laura Juliano, shows that more people are suffering withdrawl symptoms and are unable to reduce caffeine consumption which is causes the “caffeine use disorder.”

“There is misconception among professionals and lay people alike that caffeine is not difficult to give up. However, in population-based studies, more than 50 percent of regular caffeine consumers report that they have had difficulty quitting or reducing caffeine use,” Juliano said in a press release. “Through our research, we have observed that people who have been unable to quit or cut back on caffeine on their own would be interested in receiving formal treatment—similar to the outside assistance people can turn to if they want to quit smoking or tobacco use.”

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The results of previously published caffeine research was summarized in the study to present the biological evidence for caffeine dependence and the significant physical and psychological symptoms experienced by regular caffeine users.

“The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognized as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines,” Juliano said. “And while many people can consume caffeine without harm, for some it produces negative effects, physical dependence, interferes with daily functioning, and can be difficult to give up, which are signs of problematic use.”

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Juliano advises that caffeine consumption should be limited to no more than 400 mg per day or the equivalent of about two to three 8-oz cups of coffee for healthy adults.  She noted that pregnant women should consume less than 200 mg per day along with people who experience anxiety or insomnia regularly.

“At this time, manufacturers are not required to label caffeine amounts and some products such as energy drinks do not have regulated limits on caffeine,” Juliano said, adding that if this changed, people could perhaps better limit their consumption and ideally, avoid caffeine’s possible negative effects.

Juliano coauthored “Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda” with Steven Meredith and Roland Griffiths of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and John Hughes from the University of Vermont.

It was published in the Journal of Caffeine Research.

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