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Coffee Craze Buzzes Teens
Every day junior Katherine O wakes up with two cups of coffee: one while putting on her regulation polo and kacki shorts, and another with breakfast. Occasionally a mug accompanies her to school with the revitalizing liquid. Lunch is eaten with a thermos full of tea, and at home she is greeted by her tea pot where she brews yet another cup. A final mug of coffee makes its appearance at bed time.
“If I don’t have coffee, I won’t sleep. It’s weird I know,” Katherine says.
She is but one of the Country Day students who are reliant on coffee for the energy to make it to their morning class or the stamina to finish that all-important essay.
Katherine began consuming caffeine at an early age. By the age of three she was drinking Coke Cola, by fourth grade she was having tea on a regular basis, and by 6th grade coffee was her regular stimulant.
Nurse Fran O confesses she “was a compulsive tea drinker, now I stick to decaf”.
Teenagers tend to incorporate caffeine into relaxing with friends. In the 1950’s, the local soda shop was the hangout spot of choice. Today it is generally Starbucks, easily accessible from nearly every street corner. Even the non-coffee drinkers tend to gravitate towards Starbucks, perhaps for the scent.
Student Josh A says that although he is not a coffee drinker, “I do like the smell of coffee in the morning.”
Some students stick with the classic brewed coffee, while other prefer brisk iced coffee, and some opt for the delicate flavor of tea or the bubbly refreshment of soda and energy drinks. Coffee intake among students varies from a cup a day to a cup a week, with a few extremes on both ends.
As student Talia T says, “A cup a day keeps the sleep away.”
However, there are negative consequences that come with excessive caffeine intake, such as insomnia, rapid heart rate, irritability, and stomach aches.
Nurse Fran says she noticed certain physical problems when her own daughter was abusing caffeine.
“She was a duel enrollment student; it was her senior year of high school. She was enrolled in the local community college as well as in the high school taking nine college credits and working part time. And yea, she was burning the candle at both ends and coffee was her way of dealing with it. And to this day, even though she isn’t a big coffee drinker, she still has big stomach problems – probably related to the amount of coffee she was using at that time,” says Nurse Fran.
The main use of caffeine by teenagers is to stay awake, either for studying, for school, or for a social event.
“School takes away so much sleep, plus a social life, plus some time to myself… there’s no time to sleep, so coffee has to keep me awake,” Katherine says.
Her specific symptoms when deprived of coffee include headaches, grouchiness, and she adds, “My friends notice me being hostile.”
Although Katherine acknowledges her condition as a caffeine addiction, she is not concerned about cutting back.
“It is an addiction, but I don’t think it’s one negatively affecting my life. It’s even slightly beneficial to me. It makes my heart beat faster, so when I get up I don’t faint, but that’s specific to me.”
Katherine’s favorite drink is tea, especially from Teavana, a tea store in Aventura Mall by the second story food court.
Although caffeine can be beneficial in small to moderate amounts, Nurse Fran stresses “the most important thing is knowing your body, and noticing the effects caffeine has on you, and knowing when to cut down if it is having negative effects.”