Caffeine addiction at its finest

How much coffee students drink


Rush hour at a popular coffee shop, Photo courtesy of Flickr via Creative Commons

Emma Swain, Writer

Teenagers are forced to wake up in the earliest hours of the morning and trudge to school where they work for hours on end. On top of that, school is constantly shoved down their throats as the only meaningful aspect of life, so they stay up into the latest hours of the night to finish the undying stacks of assignments. As a result, teenagers have turned to the one thing that keeps their brain alert: coffee.

Now, coffee is an addictive substance just like drugs or alcohol, but for some reason, society deems it acceptable. Although coffee is not as dangerous as some drugs and alcohol, the effects can still include nervousness, high blood pressure, anxiety, and stomach pains. Junior Berit Smith, an avid Red Bull drinker, says, “Coffee does not give me energy but energy drinks do. They also make me a little shaky after I first drink them, and when they wear off, I’m really tired.” She mentions how after taking a break from caffeine, she suffers from headaches. 

However, taking a look around an average high school, the majority of the student body carries large coffees into the building with glazed over eyes and hunched backs. In today’s society, coffee is such a prized possession that coffee shops like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have become not only popular hangouts but also aesthetics promoted through social media as “trendy” and “cool”.  

According to Medical News Today, an online journal targeted to producing medical news, “Media and advertising, including brand image, celebrity endorsement and advertising on TV and at sports events, encourage consumption. Social norms also play a role, as adolescents either want to feel included or they are curious to try a friend’s new drink.” The article also points out that coffee is promoted as a “grown-up” drink, and since teenagers are often stuck in the years of wanting to appear older, it often appeals to the teenage youth who desperately look for something to make them come across as older and independent. 

Despite all this, caffeine is also used to simply get through the school day. Students are under a lot of pressure to complete loads of homework assignments, study for tests, prepare for SATs and ACTs, and plan for college. It is no wonder students often consume large amounts of coffee to compensate for their lack of sleep. In fact, according to Smith, caffeine is less of a need during the off-school season, “If it was summer and I was focusing solely on my job instead of balancing school, homework, and a job, I definitely would not drink as much caffeine.” It brings up the very difficult question: are schools aiding in this caffeine epidemic?