Is School Causing Caffeine Abuse?


Why do teens drink so much caffeine? Parents may say no when we teenagers ask to buy a Monster or a Redbull. The truth though… they don’t understand it is the only thing keeping us here long enough to get through sports practices, to have the ability to sit with mom and/or dad at the dinner table and have a civil conversation, and then stay awake long enough to get our piles of homework done. 

The only downside to caffeinated drinks? We don’t get much sleep. But how are we expected to get the suggested amount of sleep when we have other responsibilities that have been said to affect our entire future? National Library of Medicine states,“Lifetime use was reported by 53.4% of 13-year-olds, 57.5% of 14-year-olds, 64.3% of 15-year-olds, 65.2% of 16-year-olds, and 79.5% of 17-year-olds.”

Personally, caffeine is a substance that carries me through the day. I understand that it isn’t the best thing to be putting into a teenager’s growing body, but with the stress that we teens endure on a daily basis, it seems fitting to need a pick-me-up. 

You may wonder why we are so stressed, let me give you some insight… Our friends for one, (we like them more than our parents most of the time, I know that stings but it’s the truth). Teens are known for drama, “stupid drama”, that should not even be drama in the first place. The stress of not having your best friend by your side because of a stupid argument can be the most exhausting and saddening thing during the school year, besides the actual schooling. 

Here’s one the parents can agree with, the start time. Starting school at 7:30 am is absolutely ridiculous. The fact that the district believes that teenagers can actually learn and interpret the curriculum that early is absurd. Max Nowling states, “When after-school sports end at 6:00 pm there’s not enough time to do homework and get enough sleep to feel energized for the next day.” Students need more time, we have work and sports and there is no reasonable explanation for the extremely early start time. 

This one may hurt… in all honesty, most of the time, teachers are the reason why we are in need of some caffeine. First, let me just say that I love the teachers here at Truckee High. They can definitely get on the student’s nerves but we cannot necessarily judge because we can be awful toward them. Teachers do the most for us and they don’t get the credit they deserve, but this isn’t about that. The lessons are sometimes so exhausting that we get bored, we become overstimulated, or we may be way overworked. 

Now for the most important stressor that almost every student can vouch for. Homework. I understand that if you don’t finish work in class then you may need to take it home to finish, but if we have that as well as pages upon pages of actually assigned homework from each class, how are we expected to finish it all, have a good attitude, and fully commit to extracurriculars?

Further, teenagers have always struggled with anxiety and depression. After COVID-19, everything plummeted. Anxiety in teens is worse than ever and with our heads telling us we are not good enough it just contributes to exhaustion. 

Anxiety has been so normalized that people don’t seem to understand it isn’t just a big word. When parents tell us to lower our caffeine consumption because they think it is making our anxiety worse, it just adds more stress because now we have to believe that our anxiety will all go away just because we don’t have our morning coffee. 

When that doesn’t work, we go right back to drinking as much caffeine as we want and we feel energized. Sure, it goes away, but for the hour or two that it keeps us awake and lively, it makes everyone around us seem happier too. When one person is in a good mood, others will follow. The domino effect we know and love. 

I have no answers to how to get teens to truly stop the abuse of caffeine, but I can say, give us the leeway that we deserve. Students all work extremely hard to be where we are and it seems unfair that we are being punished for the hard work that is being put in when one person decides it isn’t good enough. This causes extra stress due to the bad grade meaning more late nights with more caffeine.