I just ran into this picture
which I thought was funny... but it got me thinking... I don't really know what causes us to become addicted to coffee.

What is the physiology of it all?

Anyone know?


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Coffee's no different from other things people can get addicted to.

On a physiological level I believe it's either because of the neural sensitization or the development of tolerance. They are allostatic processes which aim to return the brains to their homeostatic set point.

Few of the big theories on the etiology of addiction (if you're interested) are: psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction and the incentive sensitization theory.
Cool! do you think you could distill those theories down to 100 words or less?

Joona Suominen said:
Coffee's no different from other things people can get addicted to.

On a physiological level I believe it's either because of the neural sensitization or the development of tolerance. They are allostatic processes which aim to return the brains to their homeostatic set point.

Few of the big theories on the etiology of addiction (if you're interested) are: psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction and the incentive sensitization theory.
Dude, I think it's similar to a drug. Honest to God. See the thing is that coffee contains caffeine which is a neurological stimulant, meaning it blocks receptors (not raptors LOL)...

"The mechanisms employed by caffeine, cocaine, and heroin, are to cl..."

And from a more reputable site...

It's all brilliant stuff. I am in to chemistry so like a kid in a sand box, I dig it.
Billy Kangas said:
Cool! do you think you could distill those theories down to 100 words or less?

Joona Suominen said:
Coffee's no different from other things people can get addicted to.

On a physiological level I believe it's either because of the neural sensitization or the development of tolerance. They are allostatic processes which aim to return the brains to their homeostatic set point.

Few of the big theories on the etiology of addiction (if you're interested) are: psychomotor stimulant theory of addiction and the incentive sensitization theory.

I c&p'ed abstracts from articles..

Psychomotor stimulant theory:
"The theory is advanced that the common denominator of a wide range of addictive substances is
their ability to cause psychomotor activation. This view is related to the theory that all positive
reinforcers activate a common biological mechanism associated with approach behaviors and that
this mechanism has as one of its components dopaminergic fibers that project up the medial forebrain
bundle from the midbrain to limbic and cortical regions. - - It is suggested that nicotine, caffeine, barbiturates, alcohol, benzodiazepines,
cannabis, and phencyclidine----each ofwhich also has psychomotor stimulant actions--may
activate the docaminergic fibers or their output circuitry. - - " (Wise & Bozarth, 1987).

Incentive sensitization theory:
"The theory addresses three ~ndamental questions. The first is: why do addicts crave drugs? Thar is, what is the psychological. and neurobiologicat basis of drug craving? The second is: why does drug craving persist even after long periods of abstinence? The third is whether ‘wanting’ drugs (drug craving) is attributable to ‘Eking drugs (to the subjective pleasurable effects of drugs)? The theory posits the following. (13 Addictive drugs share the ability to enhance mesotelencephalic dopamine neurorransmission. (2) One psychological function of this neural system is to attribute ‘incentive salience’ to the perception and mental representation of events associated with activation of the system. Incentive salience is a psychotogicai process that transforms the perception of stimuli, imbuing them with salience, mating them attractive, ‘wanted’, incentive stimuli. (3) in some individuals the repeated use of addictive drugs produces incremental neuroadaptations in this neural system, rendering it increasingly and perhaps permanently, hypersensitive (‘sensitized’) to drugs and drug-associated stimuli. The sensitization of dopamine systems is gated by associative learning, which
causes excessive incentive salience to be attributed to the act of drug taking and to stimuli associated with drug taking. It is specifically the sensitization of incentive salience, therefore, that transforms ordinary ‘wanting’ into excessive drug craving. " (Robinson & Berridge, 1993)
For some reason the question struck me as humorous and reminded me of the Bill Cosby comedy skit Why Is There Air?.

Not saying the question and answers of why certain drugs are addicting in various ways be they physiological or psychcological isn't interesting, just that for me the why isn't as important as the just is. I don't necessarily need to know the why to deal with the is. Suffice it to say from a business stand point the fact that it is may be a good thing!

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