Hospitalization for caffeine abuse is associated with abuse of other pharmaceutical products

Danielle M. McCarthy*, Mark B. Mycyk, Carol A. DesLauriers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Study Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics and outcomes of patients seeking treatment for abuse of supplemental caffeine. Methods: This was a 3-year analysis conducted of all consecutive cases involving caffeine abuse in patients 10 years and older reported to a regional poison center. Excluded were suicide attempts, therapeutic errors, and cases involving only a coffee or tea product. Results: Two hundred fifty-four cases met inclusion criteria. Mean age was 20.5 years, 50% were women. Caffeine was in the form of a nondietary medication in 201 cases, a dietary supplement in 35 cases, and a caffeine-enhanced beverage in 35 cases. Caffeine was abused alone in 174 (68%), with alcohol in 7, illegal drugs in 6 cases, and with other pharmaceutical products in 81 (29%) cases. Thirty-four patients (13% of total) were hospitalized for medical complications from caffeine. Only concomitant abuse of other pharmaceutical products was associated with hospitalization (odds ratio, 3.8; 95% CI, 1.8-8.8; P = .0004). Conclusion: In this cohort, supplemental caffeine was abused primarily by young adults. Concomitant recreational abuse of other pharmaceuticals was associated with hospitalization and warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-802
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number7
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine


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