Overlooked Forms of Addiction: Food and Caffeine

coffee addiction

Publish date

Jun 30, 2021

Post Author

Healthy U Behavioral Health


When the topic of addiction comes up, you often hear about drugs and alcohol as the main sources. Although they may take up a lot of space in the issue with addiction, they certainly aren’t the only substances or ideas that someone can be addicted to. Most healthcare professionals will define addiction as an individual compulsively seeking and using drugs despite adverse consequences. When someone has an addiction, it changes how the brain will respond through stress, rewards, and self-control. Unfortunately, addiction can make long-term changes that can last even after you stop abusing. 

This means that a person with diabetes who continues to eat sweets after severe complications from the disease might be addicted to food. Food addictions are often ignored. Cravings are not measured as an addiction, but, arguably, being addicted to food is one of the worst addictions of them all. 


Foods That Can Be Addicting 

There are a particular set of foods that are more addictive than others, and if you do not monitor your diet, you can develop an addiction. Foods like burgers, pizza, cookies, french fries, and soda are foods that give you a rush of pleasure. These foods have fat and refined carbohydrates like flour and added sugar that delivers a glycemic load which is a rush of blood sugar into your system. This rush triggers your brain’s reward center and will eventually make you want more. The foods that have more sugar and fat usually lack the proper amount of fiber. As a result, your digestion will slow down. 

Most of the calories that people are consuming come from processed foods that have a lot of salt, oils, fats, and sugars. These ingredients are linked to obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and many other health issues. These same foods are heavily marketed just like cigarettes and alcohol with the same, or worse, deadly potential. Although you can’t overdose on food, in the long run, foods with high fat, sugar, and salt will eventually break your body down and cause several chronic problems, such as diabetes or heart disease. 


How Food Becomes Addictive 

Similar to drugs or alcohol, many foods send dopamine to the brain and provide pleasure. Once your body begins to associate increased pleasure with the dopamine transmission in the body’s reward pathway, you will feel as if you need it. These signals will overpower that feeling of fullness and satisfaction. This feeling can result in overeating. When someone is battling a food addiction, they lose control over their eating habits and eat large amounts of food that can be considered excessive. 

Doctors suggest that food addiction triggers obesity. People who are not overweight can also have problems with food addiction. People who have an addiction but aren’t overweight may be genetically set up to handle it better. Either way, their reaction to food is similar to that of someone addicted to drugs or alcohol. They may gain weight or even have damaged relationships as a result of negative consequences. 


The Truth About Caffeine Addiction

Caffeine does have some positive side effects. It can improve your mood, ease headaches, reduce the chances of a stroke, and even works against Parkinson’s disease. However, these effects are temporary, and the problem arises with caffeine when people depend on it to wake up and start their day. Someone rarely overdoses on caffeine, but it is still a possibility — a caffeine overdose can entail hypertension, hypotension, vomiting, abdominal pain, and a fever. In some cases, a caffeine overdose could throw off the rhythm of a heartbeat and cause it to race or dysrhythmia. 


Paying Attention to These Types of Addiction

A food or caffeine addiction is an addiction that may be hard to notice, but once you are aware of the signs, they are easier to spot. If you notice that you have someone in your life who relies on caffeine every single day, you may need to confront them or keep an eye on it. 

If you notice that you have someone in your life who is obese or overweight and there are no signs of them slowing up on their diet, then consider making minor suggestions, but understand this can be very sensitive. You can offend someone unless you have a healthy relationship. Starting slow and steady when confronting others helps prevent them from closing up. Similar to any other addiction, if someone is being called out, they may respond with denial at first. Therefore, it’s best to tread lightly with your initial approach.


All addictions should be taken very seriously, but that doesn’t mean they will all look the same. Food addiction can result in high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and many other diseases. In so many cases, this form of addiction won’t have immediate repercussions. Regardless of whether someone is addicted to opioids or their morning coffee, it’s smart to approach with some form of a plan. If you notice that a loved one has shown symptoms of addiction of any form, don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Whether it’s a food or caffeine addiction, you can overcome it with consistency and persistence. Don’t think that your addiction isn’t worthy of professional help. Facilities like HealthyU are here to help people just like you. We offer treatment for all ages through programs like Adolescent Mental Health IOP and Mental Health Intensive Outpatient Programs. Contact us at (619) 542-9542 for help with any addiction.