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.

References.

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.

Comments

Hi, Denise

Congratulations!! You seem to have found your inner resolve and that's just fantastic :) Yes, that would be great - I was going to e-mail Dave over the weekend (thanks so much, Dave!). It would be really helpful for us all to be able to chat to each other. And I'd be delighted to get to know you better, Denise, and would be very happy to have an "across the pond" friend! And thanks so much for your kind words - and I'd definitely say likewise! Sorry to hear about the nightmares and I hope they start to redcede soon. TBH, I feel like I'm back at the beginning and need to have a long,hard think this weekend. I've said on another post that I feel as if I'm in the eye of the storm of my addiction and I've realised that the reason I give in to it is to get away from the stress and fear of trying to fight it, rather than wanting the caffeine, itself. How DID you find that inner resolve, Denise?? I feel like I've totally lost myself to it. Anyway, I will not inflict any more of this on you. Wishing you and everyone a caffeine-free weekend . Love from me:)

Scared of Caffeine Withdrawal and Beyond

Hi.  My name is Dave and I'm a caffeine addict.  I've posted here several times over the years, and still stop by every once in awhile to read up on all of the stories.  I feel kind of stupid posting this, but I really wanted to hear if anyone had any thoughts on what I will type next.  Basically, I'm scared of living without caffeine.
 
I've lived my whole life as long as I can remember being addicted to caffeine, consuming in one form or another several times a day.  This started when I was young.. I'm now 28.  My problem with caffeine, perhaps like most here, is that my use of it escalates over time (like any true addiction).  Finally, I get to the point where the negative side effects are very noticeable.  And even when usage is not high, caffeine tends to put me into a productive, yet emotionally numb state of mind.  Sound familiar? 
 
I've tried to quit many times over the years... all terribly unsuccessful.  The longest I've gone without caffeine is probably 1 month or so, and it's been so long I have no recollection of what that truly felt like.  Like most people on here, I live a very busy life.  Despite this,  I'm going to have somewhat of a less busy life from May-August of this year.  During that time I'm planning to finally end my dependence on caffeine, forever.
 
The whole reason for this post of this:  I'm scared of what my life is going to be like when I'm not consuming caffeine.  Caffeine has always given me a mental boost, giving me clarity and ideas, and motivation where I previously had none.  I'm going off to medical school next year and I'm scared that I won't be able to make it through, or do well, without caffeine.  In my experiences with withdrawal in the past, I was not nearly as intelligent, and lacked a lot of motivation.  Will the rest of my life be like that?  Or even if it gets better over a few months, could I really expect to come close to my previous levels of productivity while being caffeine free?  Basically, I'm afraid that a new caffeine-free life will make me calmer and happier, but will at a cost take away the very spark that seems to make me unique.  Caffeine has always been my crutch, and I'm genuinely afraid of what life might be like without it.
 
You might just say "use it in moderation when you think you need it."  Well, I've tried that, and it doesn't work for me.  I don't know if I have an addictive personality, or whether caffeine's physiological hold is just that powerful, but I can't consume it in moderation.  If I'm consuming it, it eventually has to be had everyday, and then the useage just escalates from there.
 
I truly appreciate anyone who has taken the time to read all of this.  If anyone has any thoughts or experiences that apply (positive or negative), I would love to hear them.  Good luck to Denise, and everyone else that attempts to live a caffeine-free life.  I know how hard this is and truly admire anyone who would try it.

Your caffeine post..

Hi Dave, I am at work but very interestedin talking to you about this. Would you please contact me via my email. [email protected]
Thanks a bunch!
Teri

Why didnt anyone tell us coffee was a drug addiction ?

Hi , i read your post and, am scared to come to the reality that caffiene is a drug addiction, because im on a 40 day daniel fast where we must give up caffeine, sugar, and all animal products. I literally lost 4 pds. In one week. Im 9 days off caffeine so far , and am a complete basketcase . My mind is numb, my sex love life has improved 100% though. I dont scream at my kids as much, i realize now how much im addicted to it. Coffee has been a mask for all my emotional, relational problems that i just dont want to face. I had no idea that caffiene was what made me feel so dead emotionally !! Only with Gods help will i make it the whole 40 days. It takes all my will power, resolve and giving this to God to make it . If you have any ideas or remedies please let me know. Im taking a vitaminb12 supplement with 3333% of the daily recommended dose. It helps some.

Hi rebecca

First, it's really great that you've already been caffeine-free for 9 days! That really is an achievement and you've gotten over that first hurdle:) I agree that it seems we have to face that it IS an addiction. I got to the point where I could run but I couldn't hide any more and the only choice was abstinence. Caffeine gives you that lift, initially, but then payback is just terrible. I got to the point where I was ill, exhausted, unmotivated, depressed etc, even WITH the coffee. These are the things that helped me regarding support etc: It was this forum that initiated my desire to stop! I read all the posts on here and there are so many inspriational stories, so much practical advice and info regarding useful sites etc that I was totally inspired. Now it is hard to keep that going but being able to post and talk to people who understand is crucial. There are some great people on here! I check it often and will reply to you if you want to talk about how you're doing. I would say eat as healthily as you possibly can as long as you are getting all the proper balance of nutrients, including protein, vits/mins, carbs, EFAs etc. I find that if I eat very healthily (I'm vegan) - pure natural foods and no processed/sugar etc - I feel better, anyway. It may be difficult with a family but do what you can. Drink a lot of water which will help you to detox and rehydrate your body. Even when I was drinking coffee, I always drank a glass of water after (a good habit!) and have never suffered with headaches. Pray for strength and help. It IS there.  Believe that you can do it - because you already have, for 9 days! Keep busy. Being active and getting outside in the fresh air really does help. exercise, gardening, housework and I guess that with a family, you're busy, anyway. Summer is on its way and being in the sunshine does help as it activates the feel-good hormones. Be in the moment. All things pass and cravings, feeling like anger or irritability etc DO subside.  It WILL get easier. There are many people who are living proof of that on here.Something I read helped me a lot. "IS IT WORKING?"  That is, is the caffeine addiction making you happy, content, fulfilled, motivated etc??  The answer for me was "NO, it's NOT working, anymore!" It was making me ill, depressed, exhausted. I lost my life to it. There was no other choice. You will probably not believe how much BETEER and ALIVE you can feel without it. You have faith and that is a big, big help. Believe, Rebecca, that you can do it and you will. I agree, though, that we need as much help and support as possible. Please let us know how you're getting on and, one last thing, you've already experienced some changes for the better so you KNOW that it can get better. It will. Good luck with everything and best wishes.:) Jackie from the U.K.

Hi, Rebecca.  I too have

Hi, Rebecca.  I too have wondered why few people openly talk about coffee (caffeine, specifically) being a drug addiction.  It is like a dirty little secret, but one that is very open at the same time.  Between 80-90% of adults in the United States consume caffeine daily, according to several sources.  Caffeine meets the two main criteria for drug addiction:  tolerance - more of the drug is needed to obtain the same effect, and dependence - nasty withdrawal symptoms result upon ceasing the drug.  Tolerance is obviously true, otherwise everyone would only drink one cup of coffee every day.  And as you now know, withdrawal is very real as well. 
 
And unfortunately, depending upon how much and how long you use caffeine, the withdrawal symptoms may stick around much longer than the 4-9 days that many people say they last.  Every time I stopped caffeine, I still felt very far from normal after 9 days.  I completely understand your 'numb mind.'  To me, this is by far the withdrawal symptom that I dislike the most.
 
For withdrawal, I've found that Zinc, B complex vitamin, and a multivitamin seemed to help.  I don't know the exact amounts right now, but I took them all daily, and not in excessive amounts.  Temporary use of 5-htp also seemed to help with the initial waves of depression that hit in the first few weeks of caffeine withdrawal.  I've also had positive experiences taking L-tyrosine temporarily as well.  However, there are not any remedies or such in the traditional sense that will bring instant and profound relief.
 
The fact is that you will not feel the greatest, at least for several weeks.  I won't get into physiological mechanisms, but your central nervous system (mostly brain) basically needs to reset to work on its own without the constant outside influence of other chemicals.  You will get better, but it will take time.
 
I have to admit that I didn't know what the 'Daniel Fast' was, so I had to look it up.  I think this diet has the potential to be very harmful due to lack of protein, if continued for a significant period of time.  If nothing else, you likely won't have much energy, and that is on top of the caffeine/sugar withdrawal you are already going through.  However, I'm not inclined to argue these points.  I would just hope that you or anyone else who tries this 'diet' would be careful, and listen to what your body is telling you.
 
I'm glad that you have opened your eyes to what caffeine use really is.  Best of luck to you, Rebecca.
 
 
Dave
 
 

Ok. Your position is not so

Ok. Your position is not so different from where I was.
Caffeine lies in many ways.
1. You FEEL you are more productive, but actually you are not - you're just garbled and shallow thinking. Check out these:
http://quantifiedself.com/2009/10/the-false-god-of-coffee/
http://readerfeedback.labs.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caffeinated_spiderwebs.jpg
2. You feel you cannot ever be happy without caffeine, but actually you will find you will. See number 39 here:
http://www.spiritualriver.com/51-things-you-should-know-about-addiction-recovery/
Your body is so normalised to caffeine now you're getting nothing from it apart from anxiety, sleep disruption and garbled thinking.
Go for it! Get out. I am on day 33 and I'm not going back.

John C:   Thanks for the

John C:
 
Thanks for the links.  They were very insightful, especially the 'spiritualriver' link.  #39 did hit home with me, because for the last few years I couldn't imagine going into a social situation or doing school work when I wasn't going to be under the influence of caffeine.  Like I said before, it has unfortunately become my crutch. 
 
Also, I really think you may be right with your line of 'feeling more productive, but not actually being more productive.'  In the end, I suppose that the experience will be the true test.  Congratulations on 33 days!  I truly understand what an accomplishment that is.  I hope to be there with you, someday.

Hi, Dave,

First, sorry if this post is not always coherent - a result of coffee brainfog.There were a few ideas I had in response to your post so sorry if it all comes out a little randomly. Thanks for introducing the idea of looking at our 'coffee history' (and to Denise) as it made me think about mine which I found helpful. One of my first thoughts about your post was that it seems to me that it's not the caffeine that's 'making' you smart - you already ARE smart and you couldn't have achieved your place in Med School (congrats!) without that. Caffeine does stimulate mental clarity, it's true, but, it seems to me that you have to have the 'basics' there to begin with, if you get my meaning?   As Denise says, you are young and you have not talked about any negative physical symptoms ('payback' makes me feel ill and exhausted as well as less mental clarity, anxiety etc) but I wondered if your lack of "motivation" and " clarity and ideas" were caffeine's 'payback' for you?? Do you have any negative physical symptoms e.g. headaches, sleeplessness etc?  I went back to uni when I was 40. Luckily, it was during a period when I was very health-conscious. I'd just read 'Dieting Makes You Fat' (eating was/is also a addictive pattern for me although I lost 73 lbs at one point and have 'only' re-gained 20 lbs while on coffee).  I was completely caffeine free for that period at uni and a subsequent teacher's training course. I can honestly say that, without caffeine/sugar and saturated fat, for that period, my analytical, cognitive AND creative skills were at a premium. I was happy, productive and I LOVED uni! What I'm trying to say - and I hope it's ok - is that you ARE enough! It is all there inside of you. So I believe with all my heart that you can "fulfill your dreams" without caffeine and, btw, I am LESS responsible on it. I'm 61 and need to get my health in order as I want to be healthy for this last period of my life! Having said all of that, I do understand your fears and the concept of needing a "crutch". Caffeine has been one for me over the last 5 years (because of family problems and my daughter's long term ill-health.) I think I had my own fears about 'not coping' and caffeine makes you feel you can cope - and, in early usage, makes you feel great for a little while. And yet, I KNOW I can cope- it's just that I FEEL I can't - which perhaps opens up another area of debate.  I agree that caffeine's physiological hold is very powerful. Like Denise, until this week, I thought I was an 'all or nothing' addict. But I COULD NOT break it and go cold turkey (like I thought I must) There have been good days and bad but I HAVE got my healthy diet back  in place and my psyche had got used to that - I was previously living on coffee and biscuits until the evening meal.  It's like I've created a new pattern of behaviour (sorry about change of font - I don't know how to change it ) and it's just my new 'habit' or pattern. I've cut down my coffee consumption and, today, I had just one. It's as if my see-saw pattern is changing and trying to find a balance. I have to put in effort but my psyche is playing its part as well. I hope that makes sense. Before I started to post on here, my see-saw pattern was strong coffee/feeling hyper V crash then exhaustion/illness/ shakiness/very little sleep/ I will never beat this etc. I now feel slightly better/ sleeping better/ more in control/ I WILL beat this. I know I feel better when I'm eating good food and wondered if others had experienced this? Well, sorry to have rambled on and I hope this may have been of help. I'm feeling anxious about what I've written (result of caffeine's payback) but it was all well-intentioned. Good luck and hopefully you'll be able to keep us posted. Best wishes to everyone, as well.

To Jaki

Hi, Jaki.  Let me first say 'thank you' for your encouraging words.  I'm still far from being certain that I can go through a rigorous academic schedule without caffeine, but it is always great to hear encouraging stories of people who have.  I think it's awesome that you returned to school at 40 and were able to do well without caffeine, sugar, etc. 
 
And believe me that although I'm not off of caffeine right now, there is certainly a heavy 'payback' for me every time that I cease consumption.  Headaches, anxiety, no motivation to do anything productive, etc..... I get all the classic symptoms, and more.  I definitely understand the symptoms you are going through, and wish you nothing but the best of luck in your withdrawal. 
 
The date for my stoppage is May 4.  It might seem kind of silly to mark the date on the calendar like that months in the future, but I feel very strongly about quitting and staying off caffeine forever.  I will continue to read the board in the meantime.
 
I'm going to put my email in this paragraph in case you, Denise, or anyone else wants to keep up with me that way.  I don't post on here as much because I feel bad for making all these posts and taking up all of the pages here.  I also can't spell my email address out all at once, or the spam bots will get ahold of it.  My email address is m_marshall84.  The second part after that is @hotmail.com.  Anyone can feel free to email me and send me their address also.  It would definitely be nice to have some support of people who have done it before when I finally go through this.

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