Dear Straight Talk: You’ve been talking about drugs and alcohol at teen parties, but what about caffeine? I teach high school and I can’t believe how many kids start first period with Starbucks. When I was growing up coffee was something only bad-breathed adults drank. It worries me.—Math teacher
Dear Math: It should. Caffeine is a huge stressor. When you grow up with a daily fix of caffeinated soft drinks it’s only natural to graduate to a bigger bang.
Lest you wonder why every small town breeds Starbucks like rabbits, consider a Wall Street Journal study that found a cup of joe at Starbucks has 56% more caffeine than coffee sold in gas marts and pastry shops. The study showed it was the need to stave off withdrawals that brought people back—not taste. Caffeine withdrawals begin 12 to 24 hours after the last sip. If not re-tanked, you pay with headaches, irritability, drowsiness and difficulty concentrating.
America is built on the concept of freedom. Obviously, kids aren’t forced to drink Pepsi or go to Starbucks. However, as one teen lamented, “These companies that seduce us with addictive products are run by parents. Don’t they care how we turn out?”
I have this to say: Any society that values profits more than its youth is heading for disaster. You do the math.