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The Truth About Caffeine and ADHD

Caffeine — in a travel mug, Hershey wrapper, or mid-day Coke — is a natural stimulant that boosts dopamine production in the brain. This helps to explain why so many adults with ADHD say they couldn’t live without it. But is caffeine a safe and effective treatment for symptoms? Here, we study the research and ask the experts.

8 Comments: The Truth About Caffeine and ADHD

  1. I use CBD oil and coffee to help. Coffee can actually make me tired if taken an hour or two before bed. I use CBD oil if I took a lot and feel shaky or anxious and i still get the focus of caffeine and the calm slow of CBD oil.

    My shrink recommend caffeine when i was 14ish since prescription drugs were not working or causing bad side effects. I used coke (soda😉) up to 3 times a week only once a day before homework or a test so I didn’t get addicted.

    Today I use coffee since it’s healthier and actually has many other possible health benefits.

    Is my ADHD perfect….no. Am I a doped up wide pupil eyed young adult doing pure cocaine proscribed by my doc….nope.

    Coffee and CBD oil is a blessing for me.

  2. @aelynn10 I was diagnosed at around 11 with ADHD and after a cocktail of meds that did nothing, or made me manic or depressed the pill pusher finally told my mom give him a caffeinated soda up to a few times a week before a test or homework. IT WORKED! Today I choose coffee as a healthier alternative and still only take it here or there so I don’t get addicted but it helps for a few hours. Not as strong as the purified cocaine…..I mean adderall the doc is pushing but still a stimulant I think personally, unprofessionally, is safer. No disrespect but do you think coffee is more dangerous than prescription controlled stimulants? Oh btw stimulant my doctor prescribed dried out my mouth which made it easier to get cavities. If you go the prescription route please give your kid a water bottle and tell them to drink throughout the day.
    I wish my parents never put me on prescription meds for those few years. I feel I lost some of my drive and creativity I once had. The meds killed some of my will and although I still have ADHD and most of it back I feel I’m changed from that.
    What you do now will affect your kid long term. Do your research and don’t totally trust…..ANYONE. Don’t take my word for it…..don’t take your doctors word for it. Listen to your kids feelings and research yourself everything people recommend.
    God Bless. I understand my parents were trying to help but I still wish I never was on prescription meds for ADHD.

  3. Aelynn10 – I have ADD and my now 20 yo son has it. We both tried many medications before finding one that worked well. We do well on the amphetamine based Adderall or Vyvanse. Do try Ritalin and Ritalin XR, or Concerta. See a physician with extensive experience with ADHD as an extra help and for efficiency. It may take some time but your daughter is worth it.

  4. I had not heard of this phenomenon until today, when my daughter’s guidance counselor mentioned it. Apparently, there are other children in her school that take a “coffee” break around lunch ( in an elementary school!). My daughter was diagnosed with ADHD at 6, while I was reluctant to accept her diagnosis at first (I tried to work with her without medicine for the first year.), I eventually caved to her doctor’s recommendation for 5mg of adderall and the difference was amazing. Not only did her school work improve, but her mental state improved drastically. After her 9th birthday, she didn’t seem to be responding to the medicine anymore so her doctor increased her doseage to 10mg. Within 6 months she had lost 10 pounds (a lot when you only weigh 60!) and we were fighting to get her to eat at all, so we switched her to straterra, which led to a depression and moodiness I had never seen in my child before. So now, at 10, she is struggling to keep up without any medicine, but her grades are still failing, and she’s constantly distracted in class. Her confidence has taken such a hit just from the straterra debacle alone, we can’t seem to help her out of this funk. I had approached the school for some kind of help, I feel at a loss at this point and I’m desperate for anything that actually works without serious affect to her health.

  5. I have a close friend who was diagnosed with ADD when she was about 50 years old.
    Before that, she self-medicated on alcohol and smoked heavily, and drank coffee.
    These days, she takes dexamphetamine, and still drinks coffee and tea, but not as much.

    I have never been addicted to anything. I never really got into alcohol as it gave me headaches and hangovers.
    Smoking tobacco was boring and messy, and I often forgot that I had a pack of cigarettes in the house.

    Does chocolate count? I have chocolate almost everyday.

  6. Coffee has always made me feel very fluttery for about 30 minutes -1 hour and then I fall asleep immediately. I like coffee, but it has an opposite reaction on me so there is no point.

    1. FWIW, that you’re nevertheless experiencing clear, albeit very short-lived, stimulant effects from caffeine consumption makes me suspect it’s not a paradoxical reaction. It sounds more like you’re a rapid caffeine metabolizer. I have the opposite problem by being a very slow caffeine metabolizer, which makes the decision to consume caffeine a precarious call should there be remaining ADHD stimulants in my system at the time, or even if it’s no later than the afternoon such that any respectable timing for sleep onset is completely shot. But, yeah, significant differences in caffeine metabolism are no joke and, sadly, can take the fun, practical, and even ADHD-ameliorating benefits away that others are fortunate to enjoy. Oh well…

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