What are the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal?

Regular caffeine consumption reduces sensitivity to caffeine. When caffeine intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine. In response to this oversensitiveness, blood pressure drops dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from one to five days, and can be alleviated with analgesics such as aspirin. It is also alleviated with caffeine intake (in fact several analgesics contain caffeine dosages).

Often, people who are reducing caffeine intake report being irritable, unable to work, nervous, restless, and feeling sleepy, as well as having a headache. In extreme cases, nausea and vomiting has also been reported.


Caffeine and Health. J. E. James, Academic Press, 1991. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research Volume 158. G. A. Spiller, Ed. Alan R. Liss Inc, 1984.


i am only just beginning to

i am only just beginning to feel that my gastro problems are almost better and I have been off caffeine for 32 months, my sleep has suddenly improved as well, but the fatigue and back ache and mind fog, although improving are still pretty awful. I hope that the improvements are permanent, but they may just be another "better Patch" so I am prepared for them to deteriorate again.

My mood has also greatly improved, and the better sleep makes everything feel a whole lot easier. So keep going, I hope you will find this post encouraging - I know I have taken ages, but I had been drinking the stuff for so long…… so don't be put off by my story, it is unlikely that it will take as long for anybody else.

I have found that meditating for 40 minutes at least twice a day really helps : stress apparently stoops the body fro detoxing properly, so anything that reduces stress will help your recovery.


Glad to hear you're experiencing some improvement - at least in some areas - after going through such a long,grueling withdrawal period. I've said it to you before but you are strong and brave to be going through this while you are so busy and your life is so demanding. I really hope things continue to improve.


After falling back down the rabbit hole again after hearing the sad news about my granddaughter, I finally realise that it doesn't matter about intention or willpower or how many times I've come off it (how could I have been 42 days virtually caffeine -free in the summer - it seems impossible now?), the bottom line is that if you start drinking it again, the effects of the caffeine on your brain put you back where you were. Full stop. It's the science. I have truly learned that, for me, because I have been drinking it for 50 years (with a 2 year abstinence 13 years ago), the automatic, neurological and chemical signals just do not allow me to go 'cold turkey'. I just cannot do it. I am a caffeine addict and there is not enough willpower or sense of self left to over-ride the chemical urges. I feel so vile and so ill (arthritis has been terrible). So I have realised that the only way is to PROPERLY WEAN, in a very measured and scientific way, in order to reduce the effects of the caffeine on my brain and responses. Viv, I remember that you had some advice about this, if I remember correctly? Any advice about weaning would be welcome from anyone about I think it must be a measured and long-term wean to do it properly. By 'properly', I mean this. As you know, I had a bender after receiving the news about my granddaughter (with bad food as well, even chocolate which makes me feel angry and just vile) and so I felt so awful the next day that I had coffee at home (reduced amount) but it didn't touch how I felt so I went to Costa and had 2 to make me feel 'normal' again - that's how desperate I was - I really did feel like a junkie. I must have had at least 300 mgs of caffeine that day - which doesn't sound like a lot but, for me, it is. Anyway, but then this morning, for example, I had a measured, slightly rounded teaspoon, and that was enough to make me feel 'OK' but not wanting to run out to Costa. I think I need to keep to that for maybe a week and then reduce by maybe a quarter. I think I always try to reduce too soon or by too much. I also need to try to get on with things and try to find some positivity while going through this. I feel that I'm losing my life to this addiction and yet can't seem to escape. I know it's in my hands but the longer it goes on, the lower my expectations are. Anyway, it's up to me , I know.
Also, was it you who wrote about 'kindling' ? Something about when you stop and start coffee several times?
What do you think, Viv, from your experience and knowledge??
Anyway, I hope you're OK and still feeling a little better.

Rob, how are you doing?

Good luck to everyone. JACKIE


Jackie here's a link to the breggin article:


Jackie, I wish I had read

I wish I had read this before I started thinking about coming off caffeine, I might have recovered by now. So Jackie, I do hope you will read it and follow the advice (which I have not copied, but if you google "Dr Peter Breggin's 10% taper" you should get to it) I would also ditch the idea of being an "Addict" because it isn't about psychology in my opinion, it is simply about your individual metabolism which dictates a physical process that one has to treat logically.

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the article which I hope will help you. I haven't got the time to go into it in an more detail atm, but will be back asap. If you have any more questions that u think i might be able to help with, if you post them, I will have more time in a few days time. I do hope I can help u Jackie, you have helped me SO MUCH already!!!

Gradual Withdrawal Is Its Own Protection
When people take psychiatric drugs, their decision-making faculties may function less effectively. Their feelings are numbed. At these times, if their thinking were expressed in words, it would likely communicate indecision, apathy, or confusion. Or they may experience different feelings in rapid succession, almost as if they were out of control. Because people generally want to think more clearly, to "feel fully" again, and to be more in control of themselves, they are motivated to stop taking psychiatric drugs.

Coming off drugs gradually helps to "contain" the emotional and intellectual roller-coaster that sometimes accompanies withdrawal. Indeed, a slow, gradual tapering serves as a discipline upon the withdrawal process. This discipline is backed by available knowledge and sound clinical experience. In the absence of a trusted friend or ally to provide feedback on your progress, in the absence of a support network, gradual withdrawal is likely to be the wisest strategy—especially if you are unsure as to how quickly you should proceed. Even if a medical doctor or other health professional is assisting you or monitoring your withdrawal, a gradual taper is usually the safest strategy.

Why Gradual Withdrawal Is Better Than Sudden Withdrawal
The minute a psychiatric drug enters your bloodstream, your brain activates mechanisms to compensate for the drug's impact.1 These compensatory mechanisms become entrenched after operating continuously in response to the drug. If the drug is rapidly removed, they do not suddenly disappear. On the contrary, they have free rein for some time. Typically, these compensatory mechanisms cause physical, cognitive, and emotional disturbances—which are collectively referred to as the withdrawal syndrome.

The simplest way to reduce the intensity of withdrawal reactions is to taper doses gradually, in small increments. This way, you are giving your brain appropriate "time" and "space" to regain normal functioning. Unless it is clearly established that you are suffering an acute, dangerous drug-induced toxic reaction, you should proceed with a slow, gradual withdrawal. The longer the withdrawal period, the more chances you have to minimize the intensity of the expected withdrawal reactions.

Interestingly, there is some evidence that "gradual discontinuation tends to shorten the course of any withdrawal syndrome."2 In other words, the actual duration of all expected symptoms from drug withdrawal is likely to be shorter if you withdraw slowly than if you withdraw abruptly.

In one early study of withdrawal from tricyclic antidepressants, 62 percent of those withdrawn in less than two weeks experienced withdrawal reactions, compared to only 17 percent of those withdrawn over a longer period.3 Because unpleasant withdrawal reactions are one of the main reasons you might be tempted to abort your withdrawal, a gradual taper increases your chances of succeeding and remaining drug-free.

In addition, it appears that people who gradually reduce their drug intake find a renewed vigor and energy that they now can learn to reinvest. In contrast to a sudden, unplanned cessation, a gradual withdrawal allows them to find constructive ways to use this energy, to appreciate the new confidence in their abilities that they will develop, and to consoli¬date the new emotional and behavioral patterns that will be learned in the process.

One published account describes the case of a woman who wanted to stop Paxil after taking 20 mg daily for six months. Her doctor abruptly cut this dose in half, to 10 mg daily, and gave her the new dose for one month. Then, during the following two weeks, he gave her 10 mg every other day. On alternate, nondrug days, the woman experienced severe headaches, severe nausea, dizziness and vertigo, dry mouth, and lethargy. The dose was reduced to 5 mg daily but, convinced that this only prolonged her agony, she stopped abruptly. She is reported to have experienced two weeks of various withdrawal symptoms and then to have fully recovered.4

A more gradual taper, rather than an abrupt 50 percent reduction at the start, might have reduced the severity of this woman's overall withdrawal reactions. Granted, many users of psychiatric drugs do cease them suddenly, without experiencing any significant withdrawal pains. Our experience, however, suggests to us that abrupt withdrawal is chosen by people who are not properly informed or supervised, who cannot tolerate their drug-induced dysfunctions any longer, or who act impulsively because they perceive that no one is listening to them or understanding their suffering.

There is a lot more on this in the article, but I think this bit is helpful in explaining why a taper is better.

best wishes and good luck to everyone trying to get off caffeine and recover!

Stomach Problems

Hi Again,

Since I have been off caffeine for about two months I have been having this mild burning sensation in my stomach and slight heartburn. I had this before when I quit caffeine addiction of 19 years back in 2011 and that lasted for about 5 months. Like I wrote in my previous post, I started drinking caffeine again for a few months and quit again about 2 month ago. But I don't know why my stomach burns every time I quit. It will last for a while then slowly subside. I do know when I did quit before and saw a gastro doctor he did an endoscopy and found that I had mild gastritis and acid reflux. The problem is that I can't take any prescription medication for acid reflux because it makes my symptoms worse. I do have a feeling that the constant abuse of caffeine probably caused these stomach related problems. But this only seems to happen after I stop drinking caffeine. Have any of you had this as a withdrawal symptom? I am getting so tired of having to deal with this. I do think this will be my last relapse. I can't deal with this again. It's physically and emotionally draining.

For how long?

What was the longest that any of you had to deal with gastro related problems from caffeine withdrawals? For me back in 2011 it was about 5 months. This time around since I had the relapse two months ago, I will have to wait and see.

Stomach problems after quitting coffee

Yes, Yes, Yes, I'm soooo glad someone else is getting stomach/gastrointestinal hell after quitting coffee. I went looking on the Internet hoping someone else was having the same problems I have been having. Was off coffee for 4 days and the stomach issues kicked my butt so bad I had to go back on as I felt like I was gonna die from the nausea, gas, cramping, lethargy, joint pain and general outlook that the world is a horrible place. I'm 58 but felt like I was 100 years old and one foot in the grave. One cup and all is good, but I know what is down the road, which is more of the same issues I've had with coffee for decades. I'm very sensitive to it and get hooked immediately, then after a few days the high turns into a more "wired" feeling, can't think deeply on any one subject, can't sleep and just a general feeling I'm loosing it mentally and physically. I become more reactive and people generally just piss me off....all this after just 3 to 5 days drinking 1 to 2 cups of coffee. Some encourage ment to try again would be much appreciated, and anyone else that has gastrointestinal issue after stopping please say so and how long all that lasted to give me some hope it will finally go away. Thanks....


Hi, I'm 64 and having been having problems with caffeine (coffee) for 50 years (apart from a 2 year gap). I can identify with absolutely everything you said - except my stomach problems are not too bad, strangely - so I do get how difficult it is. Re your stomach problems, I do know that coffee is very acidic and that this plays havoc with the whole digestive system so, as you are aware, your stomach won't get better till you stop having it (easier said than done, I know - I've been struggling for over 3 years to wean/stop). You could try having more alkaline foods to help with the acidity. I would guess that how long it takes to improve, after stopping caffeine, would depend on how long you've been drinking it and the state of your digestive system - all people are different so I don't think there's a set time. I mean you see that some people feel better, generally, in a couple of weeks but, for some, it takes months and months. Anyway, one thing I do know is that it's possible to feel better, physically, and regain better brain function/ mood. Good luck and hope someone with more experience can help you. Jackie

yes, i had it for several

yes, i had it for several months after i tapered off caffeine.

Digestive and sleep problems

I quit caffeine again about two months ago and after I quit I have been having digestive and sleep issues. My stomach has a slight ache with some flatulence and my bowels are all out of wack. I had to drink prune juice to help things but even that made my tummy hurt. Also my sleep pattern is bad. I wake up throughout the night and can't get a good nights sleep. Can this still be caffeine withdrawals? If so, how long more can it last???

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