Coffee & Health

Study calls for more research to determine reliability, validity and prevalence of a condition described as ‘caffeine use disorder’

September 10, 2013

The authors of a new research review on ‘caffeine use disorder’, published in the Journal of Caffeine Research, state that, “although consumption of low to moderate doses of caffeine is generally safe,” studies have indicated that some caffeine users can become dependent and may have difficulty in reducing their consumption.

The authors of this review acknowledge there are very few studies of caffeine use or dependence in the general population and suggest that caffeine dependence affects an unquantified “nontrivial” proportion of caffeine users, but call for more research to determine the reliability, validity and prevalence of this so-called condition.

For millions of people around the world, drinking coffee in moderation on a daily basis may become a habit, as they appreciate the taste and mild stimulating effect of coffee, but habitual consumption of coffee is not the same as addiction.

In line with the American Psychiatric Association’s DSM 52 published earlier this year, previous research suggests that only a subset of the population of caffeine consumers suffers withdrawal symptoms following sudden cessation, and that these symptoms can be avoided altogether if caffeine intake is decreased progressively3. The World Health Organization4 has stated that there is no evidence to suggest that caffeine use has comparable physical and social consequences to addiction.


  1. Meredith S.E. et al. Caffeine use disorder: a comprehensive review and research agenda. Journal of Caffeine Research. DOI:10.1089/jcr.2013.0016.
  2. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed., text rev.).
  3. Nehlig A (2004). Are we dependent on coffee and caffeine: an update. Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and the Brain. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 133-146.
  4. World Health Organisation (2010) Mental and behavioural disorders. International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision

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