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Caffeine addiction: CONFESSIONS from a coffee addict

At the moment, I am coming down from a caffeine buzz.  Symptoms include clenched jaw, tired eyes and a gentle throbbing behind the sinus cavities.  All in all, it sucks.

I can pinpoint the exact moment this year when I finally admitted to myself that I had a problem.  My love of “the taste of coffee” had extended at this point to a real need for the stuff.  My taste  evolved from  decaffeinated filter to regular filter to powdered coffee to decaffeinated powder coffee to a little love affair with Turkish coffee…straight into the electric arms of espresso.  It was a desperate moment, poignant and typical for most addicts who are hit with epiphany.  The reality that I was addicted was equally opposed to my desire for the substance.  I was, and am, stuck.

Just as any addict, I suppose, I am not ready to stop.  Instead, I manage.  I take a number of supplements to “off-set” the negative effects of over-stimulation:

  • a multivitamin
  • colostrum
  • vitamin C 500 mg
  • a liquid multivitamin

When what I should REALLY be doing is to cut the habit completely.  To eliminate the caffeine from my daily cycle of lows and highs.  But, I need rewards in my life.  At least for now.  I rationalize that at least I’m not smoking cigarettes or drinking sugar drinks … but the reality is that caffeine plays a very important role in my life right.

Perhaps you’ve been able to shake the warm, steaming demon of coffee addiction.  If so …how did you do it?  And what do you recommend for others who want to kick the daily habit?  Please let us know.  Your feedback is most welcome.

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16 Responses to “Caffeine addiction: CONFESSIONS from a coffee addict
mk
2:41 pm October 30th, 2008

Our non-profit is publishing a book on recovery from caffeine addition. We are looking for stories of recovery from various caffeinated products, including coffee, tea, energy drinks, no doz pills, soda, etc. Authors of the stories will be kept completely anonymous. This book is being written to help others who may be suffering from an addiction to caffeine and may identify with someone’s story and seek help. Stories are ideally between 2,000 and 4,000 words total. If you or someone you know has struggled with caffeine addiction, this is a great opportunity to reach out and help others. All participants will receive a free copy of the book, once it is published. Please visit http://www.CaffeineAwareness.org

11:05 am November 2nd, 2008

Thanks for the invitation, mk. Your website has a caffeine calculator. That’s a great tool for anyone wanting to objectively look at their own intake and perhaps make some changes. Cheers!

Danielle
11:12 pm November 25th, 2008

I need to share with you a product that I have come across. It is a coffee that contains Ganoderma, which is considered to be the Chinese golden herb. It is a mushroom that grows on wood and has been around for thousands of years. It was at one time worth more than gold. It is now being organically cultivated and blended in with coffee. To keep this short because it is natural the FDA won’t allow medicinal claims but it is doing crazy things including shrinking tumors. Just google Ganoderma yourself and see. Buy one box of coffee and see for yourself how great you will feel. The Ganoderma keeps our bodies at a constant Ph which is important because if our body is Ph balanced disease cannot live in it.

I have personally witnesses a woman go from 35 to 40 cups of coffee a day to 3 over a 4 day peroid, with no withdrawl! I know this sounds too good to be true but it isn’t, what do you have to lose? Firstly goodle Ganoderma for yourself and see how great it is.

Cheers

8:47 pm December 1st, 2008

I’ve tried ganoderma and personally found it to be just as stimulating as coffee. Caffeine is present in ganoderma and although it’s a good alternative to higher doses of caffeine, it doesn’t eliminate the buzz, the high and then the crash of caffeine. Possibly a good alternative for someone who’s looking to wean themselves slowly off the java jolt.

Abbie
6:36 pm May 31st, 2010

I too have a terrible / wonderful / awful caffeine addiction. It started at twelve (!) when I realized a cup of coffee could help me concentrate through a whole day at summer school. I’ve also used it for its anti-depressant properties. Some athletes swear by it because it ‘opens up’ the chest and increases oxygen use. Those are the ‘good’ sides. We know too well the bad sides too. I’m now thirty-four and experience daily fogginess, shakiness, sleeplessness, insomnia, exhaustion, and becoming a furious maniac if I don’t have my morning coffee.

Stopping cold turkey for me creates powerful, pounding headaches akin to migraines within two hours of missing my morning cup. Not quite a migraine but too close of a cousin to bear. I also become irritable, fast to anger, irrational, weepy, and prone to instantly falling asleep. And when I say instantly, I mean my head drops and I’m out. Not safe for driving! Irritable and irrational means I can’t even properly take out the trash without forgetting where the bins are and crying. Honestly. And don’t try to discuss anything important or even something frivolous with me. I’m likely to be angry, bitchy, mean and weepy. I basically cannot hold a human conversation. Furthermore, I get a severely upset stomach and can’t stand to eat. If I put anything in my stomach, it feels like it’s going to come up. All combined, this is like the worst stomach flu / migraine / exhaustion you can imagine and it will ruin a vacation, funeral, business trip or anything that interrupts the coffee ritual. All because I didn’t drink my black motor-oil french press coffee that morning. I’m serious about all of this. I’ve managed my addiction carefully and desperately over the years. Most caffeine addicts are not as addicted as this.

After years of battling and maintaining my addiction, I researched the chemical aspects of it, and learned that my brain is physically dependent the coffee in order to function, just like any controlled substance or drug, except it’s legal. Caffeine releases adrenaline into my bloodstream, it causes a dopamine dump into my brain ( the ‘happy’ chemical that wards off depression), and without a caffeine substitute, my physical and emotional symptoms of depression, anger, lethargy, and sleepiness are VERY real. Without caffeine, my brain will be poor in dopamine and neuro-transmitters, making me angry and mean. I will fall asleep like a person who just had an adrenaline dump due to a terrible fright then came down off the adrenaline high and passed out asleep (A lot of people who go skydiving pass out asleep while being driven home because the adrenaline wears off and the body just passes out.) I’ve had to learn not to let any one “pooh pooh” this experience. I’m dealing with a real chemical addiction that affects my brain function and my whole body.

However, I have weaned myself off of coffee before, and done it successfully! At one time I went sixteen months without my morning coffee. And when I did drink a cup, it was a real treat, I got to truly enjoy it and not just inhale it to prevent the morning illness. I’m working on it again.

Here is what works for my level of addiction. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it involves No-Doz, black tea, green tea, and 15 – 30 days time. I figured it out while backpacking in the Rocky Mountains for 30 days. I knew I was going to have to use some sort of caffeine supplement, or I would never be able to walk straight, let alone think my way through route planning, water crossings, or other dangers. And if you’ve ever tried to consistently brew strong, hot, black coffee every day of a hike, you know how impossible that is. Conditions change, it rains, the group is antsy to get moving, you can’t start the stove, and pretty soon I would have been SOL. So I brought along No-Doz pills. And when I came off the trail, my addiction was broken. A tiny cup of weak, pale, see through coffee gave me the jitters, made me excited, elevated and focused. It was the first time I realized I wasn’t addicted anymore, and I stayed clean for a long time. Since then, I’ve used the same method, minus the hike. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it is the only thing that works for me.

1) I purchase one bottle of 200 mg No-Doz. This is straight *any* added ingredients. I also have a friend who broke her addiction with Excedrin, because it contains a small amount of caffeine, and the analgesic controlled her headache. I do know just straight headache pills don’t work for me, but with the caffeine in Excedrin, I might give it a try when I’m not too deeply caffeine dependent.

2) I have to throw out all of my coffee products, and give away my french press and my coffee maker. I CANNOT mix No-Doz with real coffee! That is dangerous and unsafe and stupid. This is also behavioral. I throw out the coffee and put away or give away my machines so that I don’t experience the stimulus of seeing them, remembering how great they are to use, etc. Regardless, I do not use any caffeine drinks throughout the rest of the day.

3) I wake up in the morning, drink a FULL GLASS OF WATER, and take ONE 200 mg No-Doz pill. I take my multi-vitamins as usual but skip B-vitamin supplements to help control my stomach upset. When I’m not too badly addicted, a 200 mg No-Doz makes me shaky and upset. So the next day I use the dividing line on the No-Doz, snap it in half and just take 100 mg instead. I absolutely do NOT take more than 200 mg of No-Doz, ever. If I can, I take it with a great big glass of cold water with lemon juice. The cold lemon water helps me.

4) The No-Doz releases all the same chemicals in my brain that I am physically dependent on natural caffeine to release, but it doesn’t contain all the other compounds and ‘goodies’ in coffee that I am co-addicted to, and which accelerate and elevate the caffeine high. This is important for me. Coffee is a whole food. No-Doz obviously isn’t. Whole foods are usually better, right? Yes, unless I’m addicted to them. No-Doz releases me from the co-addictions to the other compounds that act to make me high off coffee, while relieving the most distressing symptoms of my caffeine addiction.

5) For me, the morning No-Doz wards off my depression, anger, headaches, stomach illness and lethargy. Once I have taken it, I do *not* take it again in the day! That is important. This method is less painful, but not painless. I don’t usually drink coffee after lunch or throughout the day anyway, so thankfully I don’t have that problem. If I did, I would drink black tea, green tea, or anything else. I cannot drink decaf, because I’m just fooling myself. I have to let the No-Doz give me the opportunity to handle the behavioral aspects of coffee addiction, meaning the smell of it, the rituals of it, which drinking decaf will not do. (I have to think about it like I’m an alcoholic, or a nicotine addict. Alcoholics cannot drink “neer beer” and nicotine addicts furiously chew that gum to give their mouth something to do.) I don’t drink sodas either. They have a lot of caffeine, and caffeine addicts know this. When I’m craving the sugar that comes in sodas, I drink a really good quality juice product with as many nutrients and goodies in it as I can. This substitutes the sugar addiction.

6) After seven to 10 days, or even before that, I start to notice that 200 mg of No-Doz make me feel jumpy, shaky, upset and hyper. I love this because it means I’m beginning to *feel* the caffeine again, and not simply depend on it for maintenance. Without the other compounds that are in natural coffee and which accelerate the coffee high and help metabolize natural coffee addiction, my body starts disliking caffeine and not wanting as much as it did before. As soon as I notice this effect, even before the seven or ten days, I cut back to 100 mg. But regardless of whether I “feel” the caffeine, I cut back to 100 mg after 10 days. The point is to get me off the caffeine, right? And not mask my addiction with a nasty pharmaceutical product. So after 10 days, I cut back to 100 mg regardless. Most of my distress at this point is behavioral. If I’m upset, I’m missing the coffee rituals, not the coffee.

7) After another 7 to 10 days, I start to “feel” the 100 mg of No-Doz. Again, good news. Now I switch to English Breakfast Tea (a very black coffee-like tea). Finally, I switch to green tea which contains tiny amounts of caffeine. I can go back to my B-vitamins at this point, or even earlier, which helps me with morning alertness without creating addiction.

8) Now that I am back to whole foods (really good brands of black tea or green tea) I can maintain myself on these, since I’m getting antioxidants again, flavanoids, and all the other health benefits of quality green or black tea. But if I need release from caffeine for religious, spiritual or dietary reasons (when I quit in the wilderness, it was wonderfully accidental, but when I quit deliberately before, it was for spiritual reasons which ruled out all caffeine) then I also have to put down the sodas, the black teas, and even the green teas.

When I’m completely clean, I know I’ve reached release when I have a cup of coffee (at a friend’s house, on a 5 am red eye flight, or some other limited and specific reason) and it tastes like the most amazing thing I have ever drank in my life, and I feel the elevation, spontaneity, focus, and all the other benefits of coffee. As an addict, these things are lost to me. When I do drink it, I can enjoy it again for what it is!

I won’t lie and say that I don’t miss coffee. But I also don’t miss insomnia, shakiness, and addiction. I sleep like a baby when I’m not addicted. I can get through the work week so much better because I’m not fueling myself with a vicious cycle of insomnia treated by more and more coffee. When I’m addicted, my Wednesdays feel like having to do a working Saturday (burned out and tired and resentful of having to be there, along with a poor work product). And, when I’m free of caffeine, I know my focus is “my” focus, and my good mood is “mine.” It’s not a chemical.
****A final word – my experience is anecdotal and specific to me. I don’t have a heart condition, not even mild arrhythmia, I don’t have ulcers, I don’t have gastro difficulties, and I don’t have celiac. Caffeine pills are potent and could make any of these conditions dangerous for me. Simply, if you are a living, sleeping, breathing human being, *CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR* before doing this. Use the mind God gave you, engage your brain, cross-check everything, and call your doctor. I am not on medications for anything else, and this is only an anecdotal method that has worked for me.****

Good luck!

Delisa Mclelland
3:28 pm October 27th, 2010

Is there any way to tell your vitamin deficiency symptoms are not caused by something more serious?

demoon
3:46 pm December 15th, 2010

nice information about your battle with coffee, good luck to u guys…

Pete
7:08 pm January 8th, 2011

Love it!!!

Check out COFFEE IN MY BELLY! Search it on YouTube! 😀

Its this strange song this guy in Australia made up about how much he loves coffee – (i’m from australia).

Keep this great stuff coming!

Pete

Branden
10:21 pm February 13th, 2011

Very sweet! I always feel goofy when I find this kind of stuff interesting.

Alternative Medicine
11:26 pm March 20th, 2011

Actually me and my wife have used alternative products for already 5 months for all of our problems with caffeine and I cant see us turning back.

andolsa
12:33 pm April 3rd, 2011

lol I only look desperate when I need to sip coffee. I can’t help it. I never try stop drinking it actually. My stomach is thinner as hell and can’t drink coffee or alcohol in excess. But I can’t stand it. My addiction to caffeine is damn loyal 😀

Trinya
4:34 am April 30th, 2011

I recently completed a research paper on coffee addiction. The paper helped me realize that there no real evidecne that supports coffee addiction, but caffeine addiction is another story. Coffee lovers, including myself suffer from caffeine addiction. I’m a faithful coffee drinker, I can drink a least 2-3 cups per day without a problem. My problem comes when I miss a cup, OMG, my body goes nuts, I can’t think clearly, my additude sucks, and I get extremely tired. So, to help with my addiction i’m going to try half caff or organic coffee. Organic coffee contains properties that support heart health. I hope I get the same great taste.

Briana Cannell
11:31 pm June 7th, 2011

My sister is very interested in this, thank you!.

Clyde
8:56 pm July 7th, 2011

Hello! Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about how he was addicted to caffeine and couldn’t stop drinking coffee. I will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

Dylan Varian
1:44 pm October 6th, 2011

Very interesting post, I wrote about the same topic on my blog Monday. I am also trying to kick the habit of ‘needing’ coffee. Go check out my post here if you like: http://dylanvarian.blogspot.com/2011/10/coffee-fixation.html

anncash
7:25 am March 6th, 2012

I am a coffee addict too and I hate myself for drinking so much caffeine. My energy now depends in coffee.

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