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Breaking the Caffeine Addiction and Detox From It

Updated on June 15, 2013
Delicious Lattes made from home!
Delicious Lattes made from home!

Caffeine is a natural stimulant found in many plants including coffee beans, tea leaves, and even cocoa beans. In addition to be a natural part of a lot of products that we love including coffee, tea, and chocolate it is added to a wide range of products including many sodas, energy products (such as pills, bars, and drinks), pain medications, personal care products (soaps, lip balm), and more.

Caffeine has become a huge part of our lives and many of us are addicted to it. Some people don't even realize that they have a caffeine addiction until they avoid their favorite foods and beverages that have caffeine in them. Then the withdrawal hits and it is one miserable time.

A caffeine addiction easily happens by consuming as little as 1 cup of coffee (8 ounces) or 2 bottles of soda (20 ounces each) or 3 cups or glasses of black or green tea (8 ounces each). Many Americans drink more then that in a single day and will even combine their coffee and soda habits into one very large caffeine addiction.  

Learn Your Stuff

Caffeine is hard to understand and most of us don't really know our stuff. However, the first step in breaking the habit for many people is to understand more about it. Caffeine is a stimulant drug that is actually related to cocaine and amphetamines. The reason it is legal is that it isn't as strong as these drugs and it self regulates in the body. While a cocaine addict will enjoy a bigger does of cocaine, a caffeine addict won't enjoy more caffeine then they can handle.

Caffeine overdose happens to each of us at different amounts of caffeine and they haven't quite figured out why. Some can have a single cup of coffee and they feel like they are having a nervous breakdown complete with anxiety, the jitters, a headache, and often times nausea. Others can drink as many as 25 cups of coffee or consume 30 shots of espresso in a day without experiencing these side effects.

While there are huge debates as to how healthy coffee is for you and whether or not caffeine is bad for you, studies have shown that too much of a good thing is bad. Caffeine and coffee are only recommended in moderation!  

Getting Over Caffeine Addiction

Unfortunately there aren't many places that a caffeine addict can turn for support. Unlike other addictions there aren't groups, therepy, or even a lot of resources available. However, the detox time for caffeine is a lot shorter then other drugs. Here are step by step instructions for quitting:

  1. Recognize and let yourself know you have a problem. This is usually easier to admit by missing a day's worth of caffeine and feeling the headache, but you have to admit the problem.
  2. Do a little studying up on the matter. You certainly aren't alone and scientist have been studying why caffeine is so addictive for years.  
  3. Choose your method of attack. Your two quitting options are to stop drinking caffeine altogether right away or to slowly wean yourself off. Either way, there are withdrawal symptoms you will likely feel for a few days to a few weeks afterward.  
  4. Be prepared for the withdrawl symptoms. You will likely get a headache, feel irritable, lash out at others, feel drained or sleep, and could even feel nausious, jittery, or have other symptoms.  
  5. Have a pain reliever available that doesn't have caffeine in it. Headache specific pain relievers usually contain caffeine, make sure you read the bottle.  
  6. Let everyone know that you are going to quit and tell them about your concerns. This is fair warning that you will probably be grumpy and irritable as well.  
  7. Set your plan and put it into action. Whether your weaning yourself off or going cold turkey one weekend stick to it.  
  8. Don't touch anything with caffeine in it for at least three weeks after weaning yourself off of caffeine!

Be aware that some people have only a few withdrawal symptoms, while others have several that can last up to three weeks.  

Enjoying Items With Caffeine Without Getting Addicted

If you have a knowledge of addiction and have an idea of what it can do it is easier to enjoy items that contain caffeine without becoming addicted. Here are a few good tips to help you enjoy your favorites without getting carried away.

  • Don't consume caffeine every day. It only takes a small amount to become addicted to. It is best to save for a treat and only drink it every now and again.  
  • Cut back your caffeine amounts when you do have it. This can be by cutting back the amount you drink (ordering a Grande or Medium instead of a Venti or Large) or by getting decaffeinated. Decaf coffee still has caffeine in it. In fact, studies have shown that decaf espresso at Starbucks contains as much caffeine as most traditional coffee brewed at home. None the less, dacaf is still less. Want more caffeine then that? Mix your decaf with your regular. You can do that at home with your coffee and you can order it that way at the coffee shop (Starbucks calls it "half caf").  
  • Make it special. Whenever you have a cup of coffee, tea, or chocolate make it feel like a special occasion. Indulge in the whipped cream, sweeteners, and other things you enjoy.  
  • Don't make it into a habit. Don't drink or consume it at certain times of the day, week, or month or as a reward for anything. These are all ways to make it into a habit, which can easily turn into an addiction.  

You can enjoy your favorite beverages, candy, and other products without being addicted. I know. As a Starbuck's barista I drank coffee everyday. Lots of coffee, in lots of strong and magnificent ways. Our store gave us free beverages and often we drank those all day long. Once I quit, I had to quit. Now I enjoy good coffee, tea, and other caffeine containing items here at home. However, I don't ever want to be addicted to them again and don't consume them often.

You can over come addiction and enjoy your life as well as the occasional treat!  


Submit a Comment

  • wannabwestern profile image

    Carolyn Augustine 8 years ago from The Land of Tractors

    I don't drink coffee or tea but sure love my Diet Pepsi. That is addictive and has all kinds of artificial junk in it too. I'm looking for the strength to quit, and no, I'm not joking.

  • profile image

    violet benson 9 years ago

    i have started detoxing off caffeine again. i have tried a couple times but all it takes is to go out with a friend for "coffee". guess i will be switching that to water or a milkshak huh? ha.

    i started drinking coffee because like livelonger (above comment) weas a barista too. that was 11 years ago. i have lingering health issues now and caffeine has been a comfort and a pain reliever. i will continue to use your basic caffeine pain pills but i am quitting all caffeine liquids. i can do this. i will do this.

    i am down to about 2 cups a day now. this morning i mixed the remaining caffienated coffee into my decafe canister. its about at 30% caffeine now.

    other than being grouchy and depressed, my symptoms are mild so far. i only drank about 2-4 cups a day. not that much really. not compared to my co-workers.

    so heres to us. may we kick this in the butt-ocks and feel 100 X better !!!

  • Moon Daisy profile image

    Moon Daisy 9 years ago from London

    A very interesting article.  I think that most of us are caffeine addicts, some of us know this and some of us don't.  I kind of envy you having been a Starbucks barista with all that free coffee, but I know that I would end up a nervous wreck if I had access to all that caffeine!

  • livelonger profile image

    Jason Menayan 9 years ago from San Francisco

    Wow, what a terrific response! Very informative. As a former barista, you're well positioned to write authoritatively on the matter. :-)