Health experts have warned about the growing problem of that most socially acceptable of drug addictions: caffeine.

Most people think nothing of their much-needed tea or coffee in the morning, or a can of cola to chase away the post-lunch slump.

But a study co-authored by Laura Juliano, an American University psychology professor based in Washington, indicates that many are so dependent on caffeine they suffer withdrawal symptoms and are unable to reduce consumption – even if they have another condition that may be complicated by caffeine, such as a pregnancy, a heart condition, or a bleeding disorder.

The condition is called caffeine use disorder and though caffeine is the most commonly used drug in the world, health professionals have been slow to characterise problematic use and acknowledge that some cases may call for treatment, the study says.

“The negative effects of caffeine are often not recognised as such because it is a socially acceptable and widely consumed drug that is well integrated into our customs and routines,” Juliano said.

“Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda”, was written by Juliano 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 last year in the Journal of Caffeine Research. – Daily Mail