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Is coffee/energy drinks different for ADHD people?


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I have a question for everyone: do stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks help you feel more awake or hyper? That seems to be the case with everyone I know, but throughout my entire life, they have either done nothing for me or made me sleepy. I was wondering if this has to do with ADHD, since stimulants are used as medication to calm down people with ADHD. Would it work in similar ways with coffee? And that also leads to the question of whether or not drugs like cocaine, crystal meth, etc, would work the same way also.

Just a random curiosity. I'm probably totally wrong about it.

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I don't think you're wrong.

Every stimulant I have tried had the same calming or nothing effect on me. I'm pretty sure it's an ADHD thing.

I wasn't dx'd until I was 45, so it kind of explains why I found it necessary to drink two pots of coffee every day.

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I have a question for everyone: do stimulants such as coffee and energy drinks help you feel more awake or hyper?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, but not a psychostimulant, as would be prescribed to people with ADHD. The difference lies in which neurotransmitters are released, and which receptors the chemical binds to (and where they are). There's also a difference in how "normal" people are affected by the chemicals, but they've got their own websites.

That seems to be the case with everyone I know, but throughout my entire life, they have either done nothing for me or made me sleepy. I was wondering if this has to do with ADHD, since stimulants are used as medication to calm down people with ADHD. Would it work in similar ways with coffee?

Not necessarily. Caffeine helps somewhat, but the way it functions in the body, it's more similar to the effects of exercise and physical self-stimming/hyperactivity. It's not likely going to help near as much with executive function (task switching, selective attention/screening out distractions). If anything, it seems to promote hyperfocus for me.

On the other hand, yes, there is a real possibility that if you were prescribed something like Adderall or Ritalin you might have to alter the dosage or even add a second med to avoid excess sleepiness.

And that also leads to the question of whether or not drugs like cocaine, crystal meth, etc, would work the same way also.

In other words, if a little helps a little, a lot should help a whole lot? Usually with psych meds and mood/mind-altering drugs, past an individual point more drug means less of the intended effects and more of the side effects. With street drugs your safest long-term course is to leave your curiosity unsatisfied (your disappointment too - how would you like to take speed only to find out that you're so abnormal that you've achieved normalcy on the stuff? If you're not expecting it, having your brain run on only one track at a time for a few hours is a disquieting experience)

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Per our pediatrician, "uppers" like caffeine, cocaine, meth, speed, even fast action video games all have a calming effect on a person with ADHD. This is why my kids without meds would be nice and quiet for hours playing video games, if I'd let them, but as soon as the console goes off, they're climbing the walls and driving me up them, too. It's also why my husband can drink 3 triple expressos right before bed, and then fall asleep in 5 minutes because it has no effect whatsoever, while I can drink 1 cola at 5pm and be up all night.

Problem is, all those things are a form of self-medication, most are addicting with negative consequences up to and including death, and dosage control and consistency is non-existent (see previous comment about consequences). Hence why stimulate medications are a controlled substance.

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I can and frequently do drink coffee before bed with no change in or problems with my sleep. If I drink enough, it will make me a little more alert, but not enough to substitute for prescription stims. Adderall may interfere with sleep if I take it too late, though Vyvanse will not. My 12 year old son has ADHD too, and the IR Adderall he has been taking when he gets home from school has been interfering with his dinner and his sleep. Yesterday we tried the coffee experiment to see if he might be able to focus better without food or sleep problems, and indeed, it didn't interfere with his eating or sleeping, but it didn't help with his homework either. Today, he took his Adderall the moment he walked in the door (3:15) and we'll see how he does tonight.

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I was recently put on stimulants for ADHD but I have drank copious amounts of caffiene my entire life. I have quit tons of times but it's never stuck. I can drink and drink and drink it (usually Dr. Pepper) and never have the jittery/hyper effect. I actually drink it right before bed and have no problem. I've tried the caffiene based energy drinks and had no effect from them either.

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I was recently put on stimulants for ADHD but I have drank copious amounts of caffiene my entire life. I have quit tons of times but it's never stuck. I can drink and drink and drink it (usually Dr. Pepper) and never have the jittery/hyper effect. I actually drink it right before bed and have no problem. I've tried the caffiene based energy drinks and had no effect from them either.

Coffee is my favorite self-med by far. I find it both relaxing and stimulating at the same time. I have no problems sleeping after drinking a cup before bed. I read in a National Geographic article that coffee has heroine like properties. I've never had heroine but can say that there are moments when I drink a Starbucks coffee that I am in ecstasy.

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I was recently put on stimulants for ADHD but I have drank copious amounts of caffiene my entire life. I have quit tons of times but it's never stuck. I can drink and drink and drink it (usually Dr. Pepper) and never have the jittery/hyper effect. I actually drink it right before bed and have no problem. I've tried the caffiene based energy drinks and had no effect from them either.

Coffee is my favorite self-med by far. I find it both relaxing and stimulating at the same time. I have no problems sleeping after drinking a cup before bed. I read in a National Geographic article that coffee has heroine like properties. I've never had heroine but can say that there are moments when I drink a Starbucks coffee that I am in ecstasy.

Yeah.. I have the habit of rewarding myself with Dr. Pepper. I know it's a physical/psychological addiction, it's just been my comfort "food" for as long as I can remember. The added sugar sure doesn't help with weight loss, though.

On a side note.. I have always stayed far away from illegal substances because of how addicted I am to caffiene and how hard it's been for me to try and quit. I figure I'd enjoy the illegal drugs as much if not more and would have an even harder time quitting those! :D

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  • 2 months later...

Neither DH or I have ADHD, or at least, not diagnosed, but I don't think so. But we both fall asleep if we take one of those "5 hour energy" things, which I know is not caffeine, but is an energy drink. In fact, we have taken it while traveling, and ended up taking two hour naps.

I am dependent on caffeine, but it doesn't keep me awake. I need it to stop feeling wonky when I wake up, but it doesn't make me more alert.

And I think I am like Stacia; a lot of times when I am desperate to sleep, I'll try drinking a red bull, and it works as often as not.

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yah im not sure what the function of caffeine is in helping some people sleep, maybe it warms up their body, just like a blanket thrown on top of you can make someone knock out cold just from sitting on a couch.

i find it deepens some sort of awareness in me, at least temporarily, where i would be very aware of surroundings, and not really feeling nervous or anything, just kind of warmed up. coffee on the other hand does the opposite, no matter how much sugar i put in it too. so it's definitely not the sugar that actually does the awareness thing, it's whatever neurotransmitters/ amino acids they put in these energy drinks. that does it. like the feeling of ecstasy someone described, i also get that jazzed up relaxed/ euphoric feeling from energy drinks.

coffee makes me depressed, unless it is under 100 mg caffeine per 8 oz. cause most coffee has caffeine amounts up in the 360mg per 8 oz. by comparison both redbull and monster energy drinks have 80mg per 8oz. although advertising, and the way people react when taking them would have you think otherwise. they make sugar free versions, so you can't say anything bad about those ones.

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I used to drink coffee. I still think good coffee is a very good taste, but I don't think caffeine is very good for me. After about 3 weeks, I end up back where I was except not sleeping as well. For those three weeks it's good for staying awake but doesn't seem to change my focus. If I try to quit, it hurts.

My ADD meds are far superior.

Sometimes the thing with stimulants keeping you awake is not so much the drug itself but when it wears off. A somewhat smaller dose may enable calm and sleep.

I think sometimes we feel sleepy on the stuff because we really our sleepy, but our minds were racing so we didn't feel it so much. Mind stops racing and we want to take a nap. I've been in a state on ADD meds where I felt that I either had to work on something or take a nap, but not just sit around.

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