So if caffeine and psychostimulants like cocaine work in the same brain areas, the basal ganglia, and both affect dopamine, why is one so much less addictive than the other? We’re not sure, but it could be that the location of the adenosine 2A receptors makes all the difference. Adenosine 2A receptors tend to be located near D2 type dopamine receptors, while psychostimulants are thought to have a stronger effect on D1 dopamine receptors when they produce their rewarding effects. It is possible that caffeine avoids this pathway somewhat by having receptors that are slightly in the wrong location. It’s the little location differences that make a big difference between a line of cocaine and your morning coffee.
For me, caffeine is most useful in fending off migraine headaches. It’s a razor’s-edge balance, though, because too much of it can also lead to migraines, especially through withdrawal headaches. Maybe I should give cocaine a try instead and see if that solves the problem.