Caffeine 'Addiction': A Tortured Love

The long history of humanity's favorite psychoactive substance, briefly

This is the first episode of our eclectic new video series If Our Bodies Could Talk, in which I walk through health-related topics in the news that actually have long/weird/interesting/disconcerting histories. This episode is about caffeine addiction—addiction in the colloquial use of the term, not the life-threatening clinical sense. That said, I hope it's sort of interesting and fun and self-affirming and gives clarity to your relationship with coffee or brightly-colored energy products.

Are you drinking one now? If so, why, and if not, why not? Are you afraid to try them? Afraid not to try them? Is anything we do not motivated by fear?

James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk.

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