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Evaluating the Validity of Caffeine Use Disorder


Caffeine use disorder is included in the conditions for further study section of the DSM-5. Caffeine’s profile of neurobiological, behavioral, and clinical effects is similar to other common substances that humans use recreationally. Extant data suggest that a clinically meaningful addictive disorder develops in some regular caffeine users, but this literature is incomplete and not yet sufficient to determine if and how best to define and treat caffeine use disorder. An overview of the literature relevant to determining the clinical importance of problematic caffeine use is followed by discussion of potential concerns and benefits associated with its classification as a mental disorder. Concerns about overdiagnosis and trivialization of other psychiatric syndromes are weighed against the public health benefits of increased awareness and development of interventions targeting problematic caffeine use. This discussion includes consideration of alternative diagnostic approaches, improvement of assessment practices, and the need for additional clinical and epidemiological research.

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Conflict of Interest

Alan Budney was a member of the DSM-5 work group on Substance Use Disorders and has received grants from the NIH.

Laura Juliano was a consultant to the DSM-5 work group on Substance Use Disorders and has received grants from the NIH.

Dustin Lee has received grants from the NIH.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.

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Correspondence to Alan J. Budney.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Psychiatric Diagnosis

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Budney, A.J., Lee, D.C. & Juliano, L.M. Evaluating the Validity of Caffeine Use Disorder. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17, 74 (2015).

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  • Caffeine use disorder
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Diagnosis
  • DSM-5