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.


Quit cold turkey on Easter Sunday

I went cold turkey on Easter Sunday sort of by accident -- forgot about drinking any coffee while getting ready for company. Woke up Sunday morning after not drinking a cup for nearly 24 hours, and then it was too late. Intense, horrific headache, total nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, crushing muscle pains and sensitive skin, nerves. I could not eat or drink or sit up for more than a few minutes at a time, couldn't walk straight, dry heaves, etc. until about 6 pm that day. I am nearly 60 years old, a life long addict to coffee. I've quit many times. But this time I realised that coffee is going to kill me if I don't stop. It's been 3 days now, going on the 4th. The headache and nausea are mostly gone, but have horrific muscle pains that are frightening me, I've never had them before. I would love to know what the biochemical or metabolic pathways are that are causing this. I also wish I knew what percentage of the population has this much sensitivity. I also do believe that quitting means you have to quit all forms of caffeine. No caffeine, period. Otherwise you just wind up on a treadmill of chugging tea or craving chocolate all day long.  Strange addiction. I wish all of you the very best success, hang in there, you can do it. I know the rewards are huge, as I did it once before, after about a month you begin to feel soooo great. Unfortunately I began to drink it again, just for the taste, thinking it was harmless. It is not. This is a powerful, powerful drug and you will become a slave to it. Take care.

Good luck to you.  And I

Good luck to you.  And I agree with you - quitting caffeine means all forms of it - tea, chocolate, etc.  And personally, I also believe that cold turkey is the only way to do this, horrible as it is.  This is an addiction and the only way to get over it is to plow through the withdrawal.  Denise

I give everyone who is trying

I give everyone who is trying to break this habit a lot of credit.  A few years ago I went 17 days without caffeine and felt great.  Looking back, I don't know why I starting drinking it again (I drink soda, not coffee).  So, I am starting again as of today and have the worst headache ever.  I took a codeine, which I have for extreme cramps once a month, and it hasn't helped!  That's how bad this withdrawal is.  I don't know how I will be able to get anything done until the symptoms are over. Here's hoping we all can persevere!

It gets better I swear!

Hi all,  I posted on here several months ago that I had given up a coffee habit that consisted of about 5-6 cups of coffee daily for many years.  I basically went cold turkey after a stomach bug, and went through weeks of hell that included fatigue, headaches, depression, anxiety, hot and cold flashes, insomnia, inability to concentrate, nausea and no appetite, muscle and joint pains, dry mouth, etc.  I have a history of anxiety and take a low dose of paxil (10mg) daily but this did NOTHING to minimize these symptoms.  I couldn't believe this could all be from caffeine until I researched it some more and found this site among others.  Unbelievable!  Well I am now largely recovered from all of the above.  I sleep great, wake up with no headache, dry mouth is completely gone, depression and anxiety have resolved (I also went back to therapy so I'm sure that helped)  I still experience a little fatigue but I lead a very busy life and that certainly contributes.  I drink a cup or two of decaf a day because I love the taste of coffee but I'm thinking I'm going to give that up soon as well.  Every now and then I eat chocolate but I regret it afterwards.  I know there's a little bit of caffeine in decaf but other than that I'm caffeine free which is amazing.  Hang in there people!  I suffered horribly and thought I was going to be committed but it really does pass...exercise, fresh air, and lots of water are also wonderful antidotes.  Good luck!

your post has helped me the

your post has helped me the most i was only wondering how long it took for these symptoms to stop. i feel like i can connect you you the most because i have had every symptom you have had and a bit more was just wondering
thanks rosie

Caffeine withdrawal

Hey Casey,
I too have gone thru this since Christmas...I would love to talk to you please....
My email is [email protected]..Thanks in advance.

It Can Take A While

I was reading a few articles yesterday regarding the length of withdrawal symptoms and was surprised to find that for long-term users, it may take up to a year to really get over it. This would make sense for someone like me who never went a day without plenty of caffeine for 30+ years.
I just completed my first month with absolutley 0 caffeine and many of the extreme symptoms are gone, but I believe that there may be many things going on inside me that I am not aware of such as adrenal fatigue and low sertonin levels etc that was caused by coffee. I am still quite anxious although I think I was kindof anxious even before I started drinking coffee, but never the less. I am committed to staying away for life and to tell you the truth  I really dont miss it much now. I have a cup of substitute coffee every morning and it works out fine.
FYI, I started "experimenting" with supplements for anxiety and if anyone is interested, I will report back with my findings in a few weeks.

Thank you, Casey!

Hi Casey - thank you so much for your thoughtful post.  It's great that you have been successful quitting caffeine; you give hope to the rest of us.  I've been reading and posting to this site for a very long time.  My caffeine addiction has been part of my daily life since I started drinking black coffee when I was 15 years old.  I am in my 40s now, and still battling the addiction.  It embarrasses me to admit that I went through two pregnancies drinking coffee and I've "quit" more times than I can remember.  I'm currently drinking a cup every morning, but honestly - it doesn't make me happy any more.  I hate the coffee breath, the "need" to brew a pot every morning (even for only 1 cup) and the knowledge that I really, truly do still have an addiction.
Although I've done this a zillion times before, I am hereby making a vow to all of you, my cyber buddies, that I'm going to go cold turkey again this coming Wednesday, April 27, 2011.  Monday and Tuesday contain prior commitments which will include being sociable, i.e., drinking coffee.    But beginning Wednesday, I'm going caffeine-free and I hope I can be like you, Casey, and Kikaida, and post here after a few months that I have once and for all given up the hot cup of pain.  Thanks again for posting your success stories and giving hope to the rest of us who still suffer.  Hugs to all.  And thank you, Daniel.  Denise in Wisconsin

Quitting coffee

Hi Denise, I am quitting coffee today is my first day.I could not resist writing you inasmuch as your first day is today as well. I just got out of the hospital with a urinary tract infection which kept me bedridden for 2 days. I did not drink coffee for those days,so I may as well continue.I have done this in the past, and  it only took about 3 days for me. I do have a headache and some nausea but it is not overwhelming. I figured I may as well try to quit while I am ahead. I am encouraging you as well.I gues april 27 2011 we are both trying to quit.Good luck, Steve from South Carolina

Hello Steve!

Wishing you the best of luck, too - and I hope you're health issues are better now.  Denise

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