By Jon Greiner and Anne MacEwen

Description/Chemical Makeup

Caffeine is a part of the family of heterocyclic compounds which are known as purines. It is classified as an alkaloid, which means that it is produced as a result of nitrogen metabolism in some plants. Pure caffeine is in the form of white crystals. Caffeine can be prepared by synthesis from uric acid as well as by extracting it from natural resources.


Caffeine is classified as a stimulant, which is a drug that excites neural activity and speeds up body functions.

Slang Terms and Street Names

Some slang terms for caffeine include: Java, Cocoa Java, Cup of Joe, muddy water, caffeinne, Cuppa, Brew, bean juice, Rocket Fuel, and espresso.

Ways to Ingest Caffeine

Caffeine is ingested through the mouth (orally) from common foods and drinks that people consume. Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, hot chocolate, some sodas (Coca Cola), coffee ice cream, bittersweet chocolate, and some chocolate bars (Kit Kat bars).

Similar Drugs with the Same Effects

Similar drugs with the same effects are nicotine, cocaine, and amphetamines. The specific effects from taking these drugs will be discussed later on.

Medicinal Use

Caffeine is sometimes used to treat headaches, and improve alertness. Some people use caffeine for asthma, gallbladder disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), shortness of breath in newborns, and low blood pressure. Caffeine is also used for weight loss and type 2 diabetes.


The caffeine affects the brain by blocking the neurotransmitter adenosine receptors, increasing excitability in the brain. Caffeine also influences other neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine, dopamine, and acetylcholine.

Caffeine affects the body causing anxiety throughout it, feelings of false accomplishment, mood swings, and helps the brain feel more alert.

The duration of the effects of caffeine varies for those first trying caffeine. The weakness feeling will last longer than regular caffeine users. Typically a few hours you will have caffeine effects.


Caffeine psychological dependence symptoms include grumpiness, inability to focus, depression and anxiety. Caffeine physical symptoms are headaches, muscle cramping and fatigue.


Caffeine increases risk for osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer

Reality: Moderate amounts of caffeine -- about 300 milligrams, roughly three cups of coffee -- apparently cause no harm in most healthy adults. Although some people are more sensitive to its effects, including older people and those with high blood pressure.

Caffeine causes insomnia

Reality: It depends. The human body absorbs caffeine quickly, but it also flushes it out quickly. Processed mainly through the liver, caffeine has a relatively short half-life. On average, it takes four to five hours to rid half of the consumed caffeine from your body -- after another five hours 75 percent of it is eliminated. Unless you are very sensitive, a morning cup or two shouldn't affect your sleep.

Risks/Harmful Effects

When consuming caffeine, one must not use it to replace sleep, because though caffeine helps a little with alertness, it is a false sense of alertness and should not be trusted to help. It is not a replacement for sleep. One should limit their amount of caffeine intake and when they have it so it does not affect their psychological state.

Works Cited

Blair-Broeker, Charles T, Randal M. Ernst, and David G. Myers. Thinking About

Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior. New York: Worth, 2008. Print.

"Caffeine - Chemistry Encyclopedia - structure, reaction, water, uses, name, mass." Chemistry: Foundations and Applications. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2013. <>.

"Medicines in my Home: Caffeine and Your Body." N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2013. ely/UnderstandingOver-the-CounterMedicines/UCM205286.pdf.

"Slang Terms for Coffee." Ezine Articles. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 May 2013. <>.