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J Caffeine Res. 2011 Dec;1(4):219-225.

Evaluating Dependence Criteria for Caffeine.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology, College of Public Health and Health Professions, College of Medicine, University of Florida , Gainesville, Florida.
2
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine , Baltimore, Maryland.

Abstract

Background: Although caffeine is the most widely used mood-altering drug in the world, few studies have operationalized and characterized Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV (DSM-IV) substance dependence criteria applied to caffeine. Methods: As a part of a nosological study of substance use disorders funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, we assessed caffeine use and dependence symptoms among high school and college students, drug treatment patients, and pain clinic patients who reported caffeine use in the last 7 days and also reported use of alcohol, nicotine, or illicit drugs within the past year (n=167). Results: Thirty-five percent met the criteria for dependence when all seven of the adopted DSM dependence criteria were used. Rates of endorsement of several of the most applicable diagnostic criteria were as follows: 26% withdrawal, 23% desire to cut down or control use, and 44% continued use despite harm. In addition, 34% endorsed craving, 26% said they needed caffeine to function, and 10% indicated that they talked to a physician or counselor about problems experienced with caffeine. There was a trend towards increased caffeine dependence among those dependent on nicotine or alcohol. Within a subgroup that had used caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine in the past year, 28% fulfilled criteria for caffeine dependence compared to 50% for alcohol and 80% for nicotine. Conclusion: The present study adds to a growing literature suggesting the reliability, validity, and clinical utility of the caffeine dependence diagnosis. Recognition of caffeine dependence in the DSM-V may be clinically useful.

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