Can coffee get you high? (+3 considerations)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can coffee get you high? We will discuss how and why coffee gets you caffeine-high. We will also discuss the positive and negative effects of drinking coffee as a stimulating drug.

Can coffee get you high?

Coffee can get you high, as it is a stimulating drug. Coffee gives your brain a boost because of caffeine compounds. Caffeine promotes adrenaline which gives the brain a rush. It also blocks the hormone called adenosine, making you perked up instead of sleepy. 

Coffee is a performance-enhancing drug, which improves physical and mental focus and delays fatigue. However, the chemical modification to the brain comes with the cost of caffeine crash, which causes tiredness, irritability and lethargy.(1)

How does coffee get you high?

The stimulating effect of coffee is well known and is due to caffeine’s ability to enhance mental performance, which includes enhancing alertness and perception. 

Generally, a dose of 75 mg is required to obtain these effects, although very large differences in individual responses to caffeine are observed.Caffeine consumption can also improve other functions such as memory and mood.

Coffee components other than caffeine have also been shown to influence cognitive performance, though to a smaller extent than caffeine.

However, it is now known that most acute caffeine effects cease to exist with regular coffee consumption due to adaptation mechanisms and that other coffee components. (1) 

What is the safe limit for coffee?

According to the FDA, the safe limit for coffee is 400 mg of caffeine a day. You can drink 4 to 5 cups of coffee in a day. However, some people are more sensitive than others, owing to factors; such as genetic makeup, health, age, and nicotine habits. (2)

How can getting high on caffeine have a detrimental effect?

1. Mental Stress

The stimulating effect of caffeine lasts for a short while, after which it can cause some people to crash. A caffeine crash is identified by sudden fatigue and sleepiness.

Coffee can also cause anxiety. Caffeine blocks the chemical called adenosine that prevents fatigue. When you take caffeine in a high quantity, it causes fatigue and nausea.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, caffeine-induced anxiety disorder is one of the syndromes related to caffeine. Taking around 1000 mg of caffeine in a day can cause nervousness, jitteriness, and nausea.(1, 3)

2. Stomach Distress

High caffeine causes a lot of distress to the body and the brain alike. A boosted nervous system affects the colons and GI tract, causing a person to experience stomach discomfort. 

Coffee is an acidic beverage that is heavy on the stomach. Acidic foods can cause digestive problems like ulcers and heartburn. 

Coffee can trigger GERD symptoms in people who drink it regularly. Some people can experience painful gastrointestinal symptoms if they consume a large dose of caffeine. Some adverse effects of caffeine toxicity include diarrhea, nausea, acid reflux, and gas.(1)


Drinking a higher amount of coffee can also cause insomnia. As coffee wards off your sleep, it will interfere with your sleep cycle, especially if you consume it later in the day. 

Every person’s sleep will respond differently to caffeine. Too much caffeine will take you long to fall asleep, regardless of the time of day you take it. 

On average, coffee takes five hours to wear off. In reiteration, an individual could take anywhere between a half-hour to nine hours. (1)

Does caffeine cause dependence?

There is no such brain circuit that links caffeine to dependence. The issue of possible dependence on caffeine has been discussed for many years. 

In fact, different drugs affect different people in different ways, and caffeine is no exception. It is therefore difficult to make general statements on dependence, tolerance and withdrawal.

 Caffeine doesn’t affect areas involved in reinforcing and rewarding. According to the standard for measuring any potential drug abuse and dependence, there are no criteria that qualify caffeine for potential drug abuse.

As with any drug, regular caffeine users will establish a partial tolerance to caffeine.However, studies have shown that this tolerance only applies to effects such as jitteriness,anxiety and an increased heart rate. 

Users do not develop a tolerance to the benefits of caffeine consumption such as improved mental performance, although sometimes slightly higher doses of caffeine are required. (1)  

Does caffeine cause withdrawal?

Yes.  The types of caffeine withdrawal symptoms which are most often reported are headaches; feelings of weariness, weakness and drowsiness.

It can also lead to impaired concentration;fatigue and work difficulty; depression; anxiety; irritability; increased muscle tension and occasional tremors, nausea or vomiting. 

Withdrawal symptoms generally peak 20–48h after the last caffeine was consumed, although users can generally avoid these if caffeine consumption is progressively decreased. (1)

 Can caffeine cause overdose?

Yes. Although such caffeine levels are not easily obtained through acute coffee intake, users may easily consume caffeine pills in such quantities.

Reported overdose symptoms are hypertension or hypotension, tachycardia, vomiting, fever, delusion, hallucinations, arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, coma and death. 

Fatalities most commonly result from seizures and cardiac arrhythmias at plasma levels of 100–180 μg per mL. However, caffeine-related deaths have not been associated with coffee drinking (1)

How to treat caffeine intoxication?

Caffeine intoxication is essentially treated with supportive care, although there are techniques for decontamination and increased elimination which have been shown to be effective. 

The approach for management or treatment depends upon the particular patient’s symptoms, physical condition and the circumstances of their ingestion.

 For example, a mild overdose of 1 g with an individual displaying only mild side effects (e.g., restlessness, irritability, palpitations) might simply be monitored and perhaps administered a benzodiazepine whereas someone with a massive overdose might require numerous interventions]. 

Hemodialysis has also been effectively employed to reduce caffeine in plasma while decreasing morbidity in cases of intoxication (3)


In this brief guide, we answered the question, can coffee get you high? We discussed how and why coffee gets you caffeine-high. We also discussed the positive and negative effects of drinking coffee as a stimulating drug.

Other FAQs about Coffee which you may be interested in.

Can coffee cause Gastritis?

Can coffee cause hair loss?

Can coffee cause nausea?


  1. Farah, Adriana.  Nutritional and health effects of coffee. 10.19103/AS.2017.0022.14. 2018.
  2. COnsumer´s update; Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine is Too Much?. FDA/CEDR. Food and Drug Administration Website. 2018.
  3. Willson, C.  The clinical toxicology of caffeine: A review and case study. Toxicology Reports. 2018.

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