The drug that the vast majority of doctors don’t mind their patients using: caffeine.

Caffeine is a stimulant. It reduces the activity of adenosine. Adenosine increases drowsiness. When it is reduced, the activity of stimulating chemicals is increased.

  • Then arises
    • Why can’t I then use Adderall/Dexedrine/Vyvanse/Evekeo/Zenzedi (amphetamine)
    • Why then can’t I use Ritalin/Concerta (methylphenidate)?
    • Both are stimulants, right? Both involve more dopamine and energy, right? It’s really easy to get prescribed them, too, so they’re safe, right?
    • This section serves to explain why and how classic stimulants and caffeine are worlds away from each other

*Nicotine is not tobacco, and when nicotine is mentioned, nicotine is meant, not tobacco. Tobacco is very unhealthy, especially smoked, and should be avoided at all costs. *

  • Firstly, though, anything that provides pleasure can also lock one into the chains of addiction. Some people have serious issues with caffeine addiction, but these people are few and far between.

Please consult this section with the infographics and information of the Risks of Drug Abuse and Addiction section.

Warnings:

  1. Caffeine
    1. Absolutely do not work with caffeine powder.
      1. It’s easy to screw up, take five grams, and kill oneself through an excruciating seizure or heart arrhythmia.
      2. Bulk amounts of  99% pure caffeine powder has already killed young, otherwise healthy people.
    2. Most of the time, caffeine pills pose risks that coffee does not. 
      1. Even if one tries to simulate taking caffeine pills by chugging large amounts of coffee, the caffeine is still suspended in liquid, so will be ingested more slowly.
      2. Also, one is likely to become dependent on much higher levels of caffeine if they take it in pills – what’s quicker and easier, taking a pill, or having a tasty drink?
    3. Caffeine is okay” doesn’t mean ten cups a day. 
      1. If you need to drink that much coffee, talk to your doctor, because a health issue isn’t being addressed.

So, the big question is: Why is this chemical okay to take, but classic stimulants like Adderall (amphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) aren’t? All lead to increases of dopamine (the main pleasure neurotransmitter). Can’t there be an amphetamine-like effect if we drink enough coffee?

Caffeine

  • Caffeine in the amounts that the great majority of users take, is beneficial to the brain and body
  • Caffeine has a low “ceiling” dose.
    • After consuming about 300 – 500mg, people won’t feel much more pleasure by taking more.
    • In fact, taking more after the ceiling dose tends to produce bodily discomfort and agitation.
    • So the “happy chemicals” naturally peak with caffeine. This means that caffeine has low addiction potential, that it only raises the “happy chemicals” to a point.
    • Classical stimulants have a very high ceiling dose, well past a damaging dose, right up to a lethal one
  • Below on the left we see how much caffeine can raise levels of dopamine.
    • Let’s say that we can increase levels of dopamine by 150% by drinking caffeine.
    • For a 240-pound male, as the graph advises, that would be after more than 1,600mg caffeine, more than 3-5 times the ceiling.
    • The USDA lists 95mg of caffeine per cup as a reasonable amount.
    • That’s almost 17 cups of coffee to reach that 150% level. Now I said there’s a ceiling, but it’s not absolute; dopamine will continue to increase, but much more slowly, and the peripheral stimulation will be much more present than any dopaminergic effect.
  • How about amphetamine?
    • As we see below on the right, amphetamine reliably raises dopamine levels to almost 300%, twice that of caffeine.
    • Not only that, but the dosage required for the increase is quite small, equivalent to just over 27mg for a 240-pound male.
    • It’s not uncommon for people to take double that dose, daily.
    • Prescriptions wouldn’t be so high as 60mg of Adderall per day if there was a great amount of physical discomfort at that level.
  • As a reminder: we’re talking about downing a very large amount of caustic liquid in a very short amount of time, versus swallowing a pill or two

Here below left: caffeine doesn’t have much action beyond adenosine receptors until it’s at toxic levels, well after overdose symptoms, related below left, begin to occur.

  • Due to its legality, caffeine does not have strange and potentially harmful fillers.
    • When you buy a cup of coffee, you know what you’re getting.
    • Even taking a caffeine tablet, fillers are correctly identified on the packaging.
    • However, soft drinks are both legal and toxic.
    • Let the infographics speak for themselves:

  • Caffeine is ingested orally almost all of the time, usually the least addictive way to take a drug. It is furthermore usually not taken all at once, but by sips throughout the day. In short, please consult these two images on the general length of time it takes a drug to produce its psychoactive effect, with how the user introduces it to the body.
  • One might argue that Adderall (amphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) are produced with high standards, and have no intentional or unintentional impurities that would make them otherwise more unhealthy than the substances in pure form.
    • It’s true that, for example, there’s no harmful phosphoric acid found in soft drinks. People don’t have to worry about gun cleaner when popping pharmaceutical stimulants.
    • And yet, especially regarding amphetamine, prescribed doses can be toxic to the brain and heart, not a trait of relatively normal consumption of caffeine
    • The hazard here has to deal with the so-called “honeymoon” period of drug abuse.
      • Given that amphetamine prescriptions are given out so freely in the United States today, these prescriptions tend to be at higher doses than is needed.
      • When that happens, people are overwhelmed with the anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, laser-like focus, and all-around emotional joy they experience.
      • But this effect fades (in perhaps one to three months), and the user wants more of what they’re used to.
      • They ask for more. When the highest dose they’re allowed to take isn’t good enough, they turn to alternate ways of ingestion, to get the high back.
      • This is the textbook version of how addiction develops.
        • If one continues to abuse stimulants, they will become addicted to the point where stability and safety is completely thrown out of the window, both in acquiring and using the drugs: siphoning all the money one can get to the coffers of hardened, armed criminals in order to inject all kinds of crap into their veins and introduce their lungs to all kinds of toxins.
  • Caffeine does not work in the brain like classic stimulants.
    • Instead of releasing the happy chemicals (mainly dopamine) or keeping them near their receptors longer, it stops sleepy chemicals from acting.
    • Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist. Adenosine makes you sleepy, so stopping adenosine from working makes you energized.
    • Adenosine antagonists are xanthines. Other members are theobromine and theophylline, found in yerba mate.

Question: Amphetamine and methylphenidate are prescribed a lot in the United States – it’s easy to get a prescription. So they must be safe, right?

AnswerThis is a logical fallacy (just because it’s done a lot, doesn’t make it right). Amphetamine used to be prescribed for PTSD, too; and that certainly wasn’t right. The trend in the United States toward relatively liberal prescription of classic stimulants is quite counter to the prescribing practice of other industrialized countries, wrong, and frankly, disturbing. The information below will illuminate just how dangerous these chemicals can be. 

  • Classical stimulants, those with high addiction potential, generally work in one of two ways. They are part of the phenethylamine chemical class, a structural determinant.
    • NDRI (norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors).
      • An example is Ritalin (methylphenidate).
      • Others include Focalin (dextromethylphenidate), MDPV (a banned “bath salt”), and cocaine (which is also a serotonin reuptake inhibitor).
    • NDRA (norepinephrine-dopamine releasing agents).
      • Different kinds of amphetamine, such as Adderall (amphetamine salts) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine), work this way; pages four to six of this essay cover an extended explanation of the many other effects by which amphetamine works.
      • It’s quite complicated, much more so than the other two. Desoxyn (methamphetamine) and methcathinone also share this function with amphetamine, though they also operate as SRA’s (serotonin releasing agents), and as such, are much more toxic.

Let’s rehash a bit of how nerve cells (neurons) work:

*There is a lot of complex cellular activity that is covered in this section. Please refer to the pages dedicated to neuroscience for a more complete explanation.*

Xanthine mechanism:

NDRI mechanism:

NDRA mechanism:

“The dose makes the medicine or poison” applies when its understood that in some cases, 0mg is the medicine, and any at all is the poison.

  • Except for the most of extreme of the effects detailed below, discomfort from too much caffeine occurs far before it poses a physical danger.
    • Caffeine is very physically safe on its own.
    • Even consuming 40 times the amount to get an effect, will not lead to fatal overdose.
    • Combining CNS stimulants or CNS depressants, however, greatly increases the possibility of overdose.
  • So, say a cup of coffee is needed to get an effect.
    • Even if five cups are downed by that same person in quick succession, they’re still only ingesting 10% of the amount of caffeine that could kill them.
    • Just drinking that much water in the space of the hour or so that caffeine is at its peak, would be a feat.

  • Below right we have a much newer study – methamphetamine about four times as dopaminergic at peak than (the second most dopaminergic agent) cocaine, staying stronger than peak dopamine levels brought on by cocaine for several hours.
  • Cocaine at below left still exceeds nicotine reward, and more than sex and food combined.
    • Given information about amphetamine above, a “harmless” Adderall or Vyvanse or dexedrine script brings in more dopamine than nicotine, sex, food, and cocaine…combined.
    • That’s what one’s brain is getting flood with: pure euphoria. And when the dose goes higher and the side effects start to outweigh the positive effects, things like not eating or sleeping only add to the proven neurotoxicity of that “harmless” prescription”.
      • Over two years after taking my last pill of adderall, having a 60mg prescription for about eleven months, I still crave the stuff.
      • Furthermore, we’re not talking about methamphetamine, which is twice as potent as, and more euphoric, than regular amphetamine.
      • We’re talking amphetamine of .06g per day by mouth, not methamphetamine of 1.5g per day by shot, which is a normal amount that meth addicts consume daily, sometimes in one big shot.

Cocaine is much more addictive than sex and food combined. Methamphetamine is a behemoth of a reinforcer.

  • We know that the vast amount of cocaine and methamphetamine produced today is produced illegally, and for the illegal purpose of getting high.
    • As such, they carry risks that legally produced drugs do not.
  • Methamphetamine is produced in pharmaceutical form for an extremely small population of treatment-resistant narcoleptics and those with ADHD, yet doses prescribed don’t exceed 25mg per day, whereas meth addicts commonly use 100 times that much, 2.5 grams, per day, by a more powerful route of administration.
  • Cocaine has very, very limited use during operations and does not go near common recreational doses, whereas chronic use destroys the nose for one.
  • Both cocaine and methamphetamine are very neurotoxic and cardiotoxic, also regarding every system and organ of the body.
    • So is improper prescription of Adderall and Ritalin (prescriptions for those who don’t have ADHD or narcolepsy).

If all of the content so far has been read through, it’s the strong hope of this site that people realize the particular insidious nature of being prescribed a stimulant without needing one, in a neat little bottle, with an official label, everything looking so professional…the choice is yours

Sources: https://image.slidesharecdn.com/dent2-090615075419-phpapp02/95/pet-and-spect-scanning-functional-brain-imaging-49-728.jpg?cb=1245052563, https://qph.ec.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-234e09b077f401dfdab79b385bb60fc9