CHUCK NORRIS: Coffee News and Getting to the Root of Addiction

As if a cup of coffee wasn’t expensive enough, a recent Associated Press report says the industry is predicting its cost will go up even more by the end of the year. Numerous reasons are listed. A sustained drought in Brazil followed by July frosts impacting coffee output. COVID-related disruptions to the supply chain and other production issues are mentioned “This is unprecedented,” Alexis Rubinstein, the managing editor of Coffee & Cocoa for commodities brokerage StoneX Group, tells AP News. “We’ve never been dealing with a supply and demand issue on top of a logistics issue, on top of labor issues, on top of a global pandemic.”

Sounds like a complaint that could be made by lots of folks. Nonetheless, the millions of consumers across the country who start their day with a cup of coffee, or maybe two, are likely to swallow hard and pay what’s necessary.

Coffee used to be a hotly debated health topic (as in bad if it was for you). Not so today. One thing the controversy and debate did was spark a good deal of research exploring the health effects of coffee drinking. Most recently, those studies point toward good news for coffee lovers regarding their liver health.

“We have a lot of evidence that coffee is good for the liver,” says liver specialist Dr. Jamile Wakim-Fleming in a recent Cleveland Clinic report. As to decaf, Wakim-Fleming says that much of coffee’s beneficial effects on the liver come from the caffeine in it. “You have to consume regular coffee — not decaf — daily to get the liver benefits,” she says. “There’s something inherent about caffeine that is helpful to the liver.”

In addition, “coffee contains antioxidants and other compounds that all play a big role in decreasing liver inflammation,” she adds, stressing that we shouldn’t look at coffee as some kind of miracle worker. It is just one way to keep your liver healthy. A healthy diet is also key, she says.

“We recommend at least three cups every day to help prevent liver problems,” Wakim-Fleming says. “And if you have hepatitis or fatty liver disease, even more — as many as four, five or even six cups a day — might be helpful.”

She admits that many people have a low tolerance to caffeine, and for them, it can trigger headaches, difficulty initiating sleep, anxiety and jitters. For people with an irregular heart rate or other heart problems, “excessive coffee might be dangerous.”

In the past, caffeine was weighed heavy in this negative portrayal of coffee drinking. A 2017 Healthline report referred to caffeinated coffee “as one of the few socially acceptable addictions.” It classified caffeine as “currently the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance, and the one to blame for coffee’s potentially addictive properties.”

For many in the medical profession, seeing coffee as “addictive” trivializes the concept. As pointed out in a recent Harvard Health report on addiction: “People allude to addiction in everyday conversation, casually referring to themselves as ‘chocolate addicts’ or ‘workaholics.’ However, addiction is not a term clinicians take lightly.” Nor should we.

Forget about coffee. Drug addiction is out of control in this country. Drug addiction robs the user of the essence of life and is killing the addicted in tragic numbers. As reported in August, when the COVID-19 pandemic began its second year, drug overdose deaths in the United States had increased by nearly 30% over the previous year, reaching an all-time high of more than 93,000. These numbers reflect a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics and represents the highest number of overdose deaths ever recorded in a 12-month period.

According to NPR, methamphetamine deaths are currently sky-high. People of color and Native Americans are being hit especially hard. Based on a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Psychiatry, methamphetamine use is now “a major cause of high-risk addiction and overdose death in the U.S.,” says NPR. From 2015 to 2019, the number of deaths linked to methamphetamine use rose approximately 180%.

Methamphetamines are increasingly deadly because much of the supply of the stimulant sold on the street is contaminated with the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl. According to a recent U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission report, “China remains the primary country of origin for illicit fentanyl and fentanyl-related substances trafficked in the United States. While Mexican drug cartels have always been a critical node for smuggling illicit fentanyl into the United States, this brief finds that the links between Chinese and Mexican actors in the fentanyl trade has grown in complexity, including the development of sophisticated money laundering operations.”

At the same time, a report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the World Health Organization reveals that Americans are not only using alcohol to cope with pandemic stress, nearly one in five admit to “heavy drinking.” As reported by USA Today, of the 6,006 U.S. adults ages 21 and older who participated in the survey, 1,003 adults reported ‘heavy drinking, defined as “four or more drinks containing alcohol for women and five or more drinks containing alcohol for men.”

Dr. Neeraj Gandotra, chief medical officer at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, says the study’s findings were “not surprising.” He also says that almost 90% of individuals with substance use disorder are not in treatment. More than half of survey respondents who reported heavy drinking said someone had expressed concern to them about their drinking.

“Within the medical and scientific communities, the notion that pleasure-seeking exclusively drives addiction has fallen by the wayside,” reports Harvard Health. “Clinicians and scientists alike now think that many people engage in potentially addictive activities to escape discomfort — both physical and emotional.”

“Be honest with yourself if you are making decisions that are not in your best interest,” says Gandotra. “You can seek help anonymously or with friends and family who may also be affected by your drinking. Treatment is available and effective. You do not have to struggle alone.”

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