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Effects of Caffeine Addiction: How to Cope with Caffeine Withdrawal

Updated on April 25, 2013

What is Caffeine?

Another name for caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. In its pure form, it is a white powder, which, when added to drinks, gives it a distinctive taste. The word comes from the German and French words for coffee. In German it is kaffee and in French it is café. It takes about a half hour to 45 minutes for your body to absorb caffeine and three hours for it to wear off.

Coffee is one of the most common ways that people consume caffeine. Without our daily dose of coffee, some of us have some pretty severe withdrawals.
Coffee is one of the most common ways that people consume caffeine. Without our daily dose of coffee, some of us have some pretty severe withdrawals. | Source

Are you a caffeine addict?

Do you regularly have caffeine?

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Caffeine Withdrawal Symptoms

As some of you know, I've recently written about TMJ disorders, which are a major cause for most of my headaches. However, in trying to fix my issues with that problem by following the Migraine Diet, I created a whole new one with my caffeine withdrawals. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawals can be one of the worst things to go through, whether you're addicted to energy drinks, soda, or good old coffee. You'd be surprised how caffeine withdrawal symptoms can affect you in both body and soul.

There are many different symptoms of caffeine withdrawals and addiction, which are closely related. Usually, these withdrawal symptoms start about an hour or so after you are supposed to have your daily dose of caffeine and have an intensity level based solely on how much and how often you normally have that booster drink. These symptoms of addiction to caffeine also affect how long caffeine withdrawals last, which can be only one day or for a couple of days after you've quit. Even if you only had that daily coffee for a couple days in a row while you studied for that final exam, these symptoms of withdrawals may kick in so be aware and learn how to take care of them before you suffer.

  1. Headache: The biggest symptom of caffeine withdrawals is the headache, which usually starts at the back of your head and claws its way up front and center.
  2. Sleepy: Of course you're used to having an energy booster wake you up and take that daily caffeine dose so without it you feel even more sluggish than you would normally as you suffer symptoms of withdrawal.
  3. Irritability: It's probably best if you avoid people while going through withdrawals.
  4. Lethargy: With a blinding headache and sleepy limbs, it's hard for a caffeine addict to keep motivated without that energy boost.
  5. Constipation: Caffeine is a stimulant for bowel movements so without it your colon might get a little upset.
  6. Depression: Be aware that this caffeine withdrawal symptom could be a big issue if you suffer from long term depression.
  7. Muscle Pain/Stiffness: This usually doesn't occur unless you used to regularly consume caffeine before working out.
  8. Lack of Concentration: With all the pain and other issues going on, it's no surprise it is difficult to focus on anything else as your caffeine addiction really starts to take its toll.
  9. Flu-Like Symptoms: Some people have reported a stuffy nose, vomiting, blocked sinuses while going through caffeine withdrawal.
  10. Insomnia: Yes, you're weaning yourself off of caffeine but for some reason people actually lose sleep over it.

Caffeine Content in Food and Drinks

Serving Size
Average Caffeine Content
Drip Coffee
6 oz
100 mg
Instant Coffee
6 oz
70 mg
1 oz
40 mg*
Decaffeinated Coffee
6 oz
4 mg
Brewed Tea
6 oz
40 mg
Instant Tea
6 oz
30 mg
Canned/Bottled Tea
12 oz
20 mg
Caffeinated Soft Drink
12 oz
40 mg
Hot Chocolate/Cocoa
6 oz
7 mg
Chocolate Milk
6 oz
4 mg
Milk Chocolate Bar
1.5 oz
10 mg
Dark Chocolate Bar
1.5 oz
30 mg
Monster Energy
16 oz
160 mg
Red Bull
8.5 oz
80 mg
Ben and Jerry's Coffe Icecream
8 oz
58 mg
Excedrine Extra Strength
1 tablet
63 mg
*Think about that daily latte you get everyday. Two or three shots is equal to about 80-120 mg of caffeine, add chocolate and you only increase that number.

Caffeine Addiction Symptoms

I've gone through many caffeine withdrawals thus far in my life. I just love coffee too much, especially caramel machiattos, and then to save money I switched to energy drinks. Furthermore, my ever-changing work schedule doesn't help alongside my boyfriend's whose is even more changeable at his boss's will. No matter what I have tried in the past, the caffeine withdrawal symptoms always bring me back to my old caffeine addiction. However, my issues I mentioned before with a TMJ disorder have caused me to really change for good, for my own sanity and overall health.

I never realized how addicted I was to caffeine until those days came when I couldn't get my hands on a coffee or other caffeine boost of some sort fast enough. Most people don't realize that caffeine is in fact a drug, the most commonly used mood-altering drug in the world. If regular over the counter medications like ibuprofen don't help get rid of that headache but a can of soda will, you're probably a caffeine addict. The worst part of the caffeine withdrawal symptoms for me is the irritability, which made me truly understand why they call some of those energy drinks "Monsters."

One symptom of my caffeine addiction that I hadn't noticed before quitting is my nail-biting issues, as well as some anxiety. While on caffeine, it was much easier for me to get anxious or just seem to randomly get anxious when I was drinking coffee or energy drinks. Now that I have recovered from my caffeine withdrawals, it's not only easier for me to stop chewing my nails, something that was also recommended to help with the TMJ issues, but I also feel much better and deal with stress easier.

Basically, if you suffer from symptoms of caffeine withdrawals like those listed above, you're officially a caffeine addict. Don't hang your head in shame, if you're a Seattleite like me, you can't help it. Plus, there's so much caffeine out there in what we eat and drink, it's hard to avoid it sometimes. Recognizing these caffeine addiction symptoms is the first step toward really understanding how addicted you are and working towards weaning yourself off.

It is surprising what foods and drinks we have on a daily basis that contain some amounts of caffeine. Orange juice is one example.
It is surprising what foods and drinks we have on a daily basis that contain some amounts of caffeine. Orange juice is one example. | Source

Caffeine Withdrawals

Have you ever suffered caffeine withdrawals?

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Treatments and How to Cope With Caffeine Addiction

Treatments for caffeine addiction vary from person to person, just like symptoms of withdrawal do. It can be really difficult coping with caffeine addiction and the symptoms that come along with it. Some people go to treatment centers while most deal with it on their own. The best way to get rid of that addiction is to just reduce it over time, rather than completely cut yourself off. This way, you're less likely to suffer from those really harsh symptoms of withdrawal.

If you plan on dealing with your symptoms of addiction to caffeine on your own, here are a few tips on how to cope with your addiction:

  1. Eat Healthy: Consuming healthy snacks that are crunchy like popcorn are pretzels are best. This way, you can keep your blood sugar levels stable so you don't use caffeine to overcompensate. This is also a great way to maintain your weight.
  2. Drink Healthy: Smoothies or fruit juice are great alternatives for caffeinated drinks. They can be good for you and give you a boost of natural energy. Drink it on an empty stomach for the best results.
  3. Cinnamon Candy: Sounds weird and I'd never try it because I hate cinnamon but supposedly these "extra hot" candies are actually energy boosting.
  4. Eat Chili Pepper: Chewing on chili peppers is another weird-sounding one but it actually helps your body release endorphins that wake you up and make you feel good.
  5. Ginseng: Ginseng supplements increase circulation and may even boost metabolism.
  6. Herbal Coffee: It's caffeine free and gives you a boost with nutrients without missing out on that flavor.

© 2012 Lisa


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    • profile image

      Jacobb9205 2 years ago

      I recently gave up caffeine, well when I say gave up I mean I don't have coffee or energy drinks anymore. I have green tea and just normal tea. I don't think I was addicted to caffeine though, I had coffee usually 3 times a week because of getting up early for college and probably a monster energy drink at college, sometimes I had 3 in 1 day, but rarely.

    • radharenu profile image

      radharenu 4 years ago from India

      I fully agree that one should proceed slowly to reduce caffeine intake in order to avoid the discomfort of withdrawal symptoms. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Medical Association (AMA) classify a "moderate intake" of caffeine, which is 200mg to 300mg per day, as safe that does not cause any negative effects on the body.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      My weakness is Dr. Pepper, and I am utterly an addict. I do not smoke, rarely drink alcohol, never did an illegal drug in my life but this soda thing is quite powerful. I drink it for breakfast like people drink coffee, and the few times that I have managed to cut back or -- heaven forbid -- go cold turkey, just look out. I had migraines and was not flourishing, so to say! Voted up and more!

    • WritingPrompts profile image

      Karen 5 years ago from The Garden of Eugene (Oregon)

      I go cold turkey every couple of months. Some help for the headaches... take an aspirin first thing in the morning - before the headache starts and repeat for the first 3 days. Drink soy milk, eat salad, and nap if you get tired. I find long weekends are the best time to "quit" the caffeine. The next week is usually hard because I'm so tired, but if I can make it the whole 10 days I can usually stay off for a while - until someone makes me work a night shift at least.

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I never knew there were solutions to make caffeine withdrawal easier! I have experienced the headaches which are awful. Thanks, rated up!

    • varshamaniar profile image

      varshamaniar 5 years ago from Mumbai, India

      Excellent write-up. I too tried to get rid of caffeine with little success , I am willing to try what you have mentioned. Thanks a heap.

    • prettynutjob30 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from From the land of Chocolate Chips,and all other things sweet.

      I have tried to give up my caffeine habit at least a thousand times.I never really knew how addictive my morning coffee habit had became until I tried to go without it voted up and useful.