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Best Way To Beat A Caffeine Addiction? 1337

Posted by simoniker
from the coffee-grouches-of-the-world-unite dept.
ethanms writes "I'm pretty sure that I'm addicted to caffeine... I get nasty headaches if I skip coffee and soda for a day. If I go even longer, then the headaches get worse and I start to become (even more of) a pain in the ass to those around me. Within five or ten minutes of a cup of joe or can of Mountain Dew the headache is gone and I feel fine... There's plenty of advice out there for dealing with addiction, but I'm really interested in how other /. users have managed and controlled their own caffeine intake, especially considering how heavily it is pushed by many development / engineering communities. 'Just drink more' isn't really the answer I'm after either."
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Best Way To Beat A Caffeine Addiction?

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  • Cold Turkey (Score:4, Informative)

    by nonmaskable (452595) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:42PM (#7855266)
    Just do it. I had headaches for a week, but I've been free 18 months now.

    Some hints for this approach - drink a lot of ice cold water. Use pain relief without caffine (some pills have caffine in them) when you need to feel normal. Eat healthy and exercise.

    I'll suck, but it'll end.
  • by PythonCodr (731083) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:45PM (#7855294)
    That's how I did it ... no caffeine after 4pm one week, 3pm the next ... by the time I got to 11am, the headaches I got when I stopped drinking it had gone away.
  • Medicine (Score:3, Informative)

    by Herkum01 (592704) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:45PM (#7855299)

    Ibuprofen, lots of it! :)

    Periodically I get hooked on caffiene, it is poor discipline on my part that I feel a need to develop a comfort habit. It takes me about two weeks to get through withdrawl and I am back to normal and I feel much better than when I ever started doing whatever.

    My advice is take something that will reduce the symptoms that is not dangerous and only when you really need them. Eventually your body adapts to its new situation just don't create a new addictive situation! :) The question is can you hold out long enough for your body to make the adjustment. Just ask a smoker if he has tried to quit and how many times, it is not necessarially an easy thing to do.

    Good Luck

  • Re:ASPRIN (Score:3, Informative)

    by msaulters (130992) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:46PM (#7855313) Homepage

    Asprin will help you beat it. That's how I did it. Just take a couple a day around when you normally drink soda. If you get a headache take an extra one. Slowly taper off the Aprin and you'll be over soda within a week or so...


    Actually, you should be careful. Many pain-relief products include caffeine. If you do this, make sure it's just plain ole aspirin.

    I quit just last week, haven't had any caffeine in six days. But I started a month ago by quitting Diet Cokes cold turkey. Switched to iced tea & regular cokes to kill my nutra-sweet intake (2 liters of diet coke a day just CAN'T be good for you). Guess that reduced my caffeine intake enough that I didn't really feel any difficulty quitting. (beware chocolate, too).

    The funniest thing was after about 4 days I had a bad dream one night about opening and slurping down a giant can of coke & spoiling my caffeine-fast.
  • by illumen (718958) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:47PM (#7855322)
    JUST STOP DRINKING IT.

    Start drinking lots of water. If your water tastes bad, put a dash of lemon or lime cordial in it. Or get a water filter.

    Coffee dehydrates you. If you can not stop drinking, always get a glass of water with every cup of coffee.

    The soda drinks also have massive amounts of sugar which is by far the worst part.

    So at the least stop drinking the soda drinks, and drink coffee without sugar.

    Write down everything that you put into your mouth for a week. Then see someone about your nutrition.

    You need to not have any for a month. Stick it through, and give up all caffiene.

    Perhaps try drinking tea instead to start with. Or hot water with a little bit of ginger. That way you can still drink something warm.

    The soda companies are fucking evil imho. They get kids addicted before they know what is good for them. Thier teeth rot, they get fat, they loose bladder control, and they buzz big time ;)

    Coffee/caffiene is one of the socially acceptable drugs that lots of people use at work to get through the day. It does *not* increase your performance, unless you always work whilst using it. You get used to working in the coffee hazed state, so you will actually work better that way. Only way to fix that is to stop drinking it entirely for quite a while. The first week will be hell, and you may get little done.

    Have fun!
  • cut your dosage (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:52PM (#7855362)
    don't jsut give it up..drink half decaf for a week....then just a demitasse of coffee...THEN quit. and drink a lot of water while you do it.
  • by Calmiche (531074) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:55PM (#7855389)
    Actually, I found that Orange juice seems to be a much better alternative.

    The sugar seems to keep the headache down a bit, while the exta vitamin C dosen't hurt any. It also seems to help with the cravings. Perhaps I just have a sweet tooth?

    One of the problems I had with water was that it didn't taste appealing. Anything you can do to flavor it helps out.

    Calmiche,
  • by MrResistor (120588) <<peterahoff> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:00PM (#7855440) Homepage
    Just stick it through and soon enough you'll be free. Learn to drink water instead.

    My advice exactly.

    Most of the common addictions (nicoteine, alcohol, caffiene) have a short withdrawl period, usually just a couple of days. I would plan 2 or 3 days for it, over the weekend might be best unless you can take the productivity hit at work. Just accept the fact that you're going to be an irritable jerk for those few days, and maybe forwarn the people you care about.

    Drink lots of water, and try to get plenty of sleep. The problem is not so much the lack of caffiene in your system as it is the toxins it leaves behind, and those need to be flushed out.

    The rest of the problem is habit, and water will work there to. Whenever you feel like you need a cup of coffee or a can of soda, drink some water instead.

    The upside that you have to look forward to is that you won't be nearly as tired all the time, and thus you won't feel so much like you need the stuff. And, of course, on the occasions when you do really need it, a little will go farther than you could possibly imagine now. (I typically have about a half cup of coffee maybe twice a month and it really kicks my ass, and I am NOT a small guy).

  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:5, Informative)

    by blincoln (592401) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:02PM (#7855460) Homepage Journal
    I suppose that would work, but have you ever had a caffeine-withdrawl headache?

    I stopped getting them (the caffeine-based ones at least, see below) after about a month when I quit.

    I'd tried reducing my caffeine intake, but I just kept going back to it (especially when I had early morning meetings), so I figured cold turkey was the only way it was going to happen.

    I'd been drinking caffeinated beverages of one kind or another for about fifteen years (since I was ten or so), and at the end of it I was taking No-Doze in the morning and drinking a thermos full of coffee or black tea every day.

    It's been about six months, and I have only two minor complaints:

    - I can't drink the tea at my favourite Chinese restaurant [bamboogarden.net] anymore.

    - *Not* drinking caffeine (a painkiller) means that now I feel the migraines I've apparently been getting for a few years (according to my doctor). They're pretty infrequent, though, so I just keep a bottle of aspirin around.

    It took about three months before I wasn't really tired in the mornings. After that I was able to sleep normally and my hands don't shake anymore. Maybe I can finally use a soldering iron properly =).
  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:4, Informative)

    by TheWanderingHermit (513872) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:11PM (#7855518)
    Hey, that's what worked for me. I got headaches if I didn't have 5-6 diet Cokes (as in regular cans) a day, and I also couldn't sleep at night (I know, you expect the opposite effect -- but a biologist explained it to me once and I forgot). Other side effects included congestion -- and I mean congestion that would begin after a few hours of no diet Cokes and would clear up within 15 minutes after drinking one.

    I saw what was happening and stopped, cold turkey, when I had 4 days off work in a row. I felt like crap for 2-3 days, then not too bad, and after a month, I felt better. I also felt better in the mornings, since I didn't need anything to get me going.

    (Oh, and I was lucky -- Cokes don't have nearly the strength of coffee, which I never could stand.)

    Caffiene free for 3 years, this month!
  • by G. W. Bush Junior (606245) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:14PM (#7855542) Journal
    The explanation i got from a biochemist when i tried to quit was that the signal-molecules that are there when you are tired compete with the caffeine molecules for the cells receptors (cafeeine is a competitive inhibitor).

    The body compensates by overexpressing the receptors, so after a while everything works like you before you started drinking coffee, but if you try to quit you become tired very quickly (because of the extra receptors).

    The receptors have a turnover time of a little more than a week, so if you that long you should be ok again... but it's not really a question of the caffeine leaving the body, as much as a question of protein-turnover in your brain.

    The advantage over cafeeine addiction over cigarette addiction is that when the physical addiction is gone, then you are ok.
    With smoking, the physical addiction is just a tiny part of your addiction.

    (note: I am NOT a biochemist)
  • by yintercept (517362) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:17PM (#7855571) Homepage Journal
    Actually, I found that Orange juice seems to be a much better alternative.
    Plain water is much better than any of the sugared waters available. I just did a quick web search...most mentioned that people should drink 2.5 liters of water a day. If it is hot, you need to drink more. When I was on fire crew, they demanded we drink 4 liters or water a day. Drinking that much orange juice will make you rotund. I would have maybe a glass of OJ in the morning and 9 glasses of water throughout the day.
  • by Natchswing (588534) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:19PM (#7855583)
    I myself had a similar problem. During my college years I was doing about one 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola a day. I never drank water, just downed coke when I was thirsty. If I went for some time without having any it would give me a nasty headache but drinking it wasn't friendly on my stomach either. But, living off a few hours of sleep per night for a few years straight will do that to you.

    One day I just made the decision to stop. I went through about a week solid headache but after that the craving was gone, it really wasn't hard to get rid of.

    A year later I couldn't find anything to drink but a coke so I tried one and couldn't stand the taste. At this point I don't think I could ever drink Coke again, the taste is just nasty.

    Over time I finally moved myself to mostly water. Being a sugar addict also it took a little while to get used to drinking water. Water works well as an appetite suppressant as well as keeping you well hydrated. Your headaches may not be due to lack of caffeine as much as lack of water.

    The downfall is that you run to the bathroom more than anybody you know. But to trade that for less headaches, a happier stomach, and overall better health was definitely worth it. You'll find that drinking water instead of anything else will make you feel better. I found that feeling better was a big contributing factor to me being more productive, both at work and at home.

    Take a week and make sure you are well hydrated. WELL hydrated. A glass an hour. If your urine is almost clear you're doing well. If you get into too much water it may be good to replenish yourself with a sports beverage once in a while.

    That's another issue. When I drank coke all the time I thought Gatorade was too bland and didn't have any flavor. After a few months of dedicating myself to water a glass of gatorade tastes like pure sugar to me. Suddenly I don't crave sweets as much. Cakes, cookies, candy - they all seem a bit overpowering.

    All these positive things just from dropping the sugar and drinking water. Everybody was stunned when I first went to a restaurant and ordered water. Even I felt odd. Now it is just the obvious choice, everything else tastes far too sweet.

    Give it a try and let me know how it works for you!

  • by milkme123 (302350) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:19PM (#7855584)
    Situation:
    I was addicted to caffeine and sugar, big-time. Also I ate take-out every day and weighed 270lbs.

    Solution:
    1. I stopped drinking 3 litres of pop every day. After 36 hours, the migraine went away and I had no more physical need for caffeine.
    2. I weaned myself off of sugar over a month by drinking Kool-Aid with gradually less sugar addedd. Once I could handle that, I switched to 2 litres of plain water a day.
    3. I learned how to make stirfrys (and a few other quick/easy things) and stopped eating takeout.
    Result:
    14 months later I've lost 70 pounds, eat healthy vegetables every day, and no longer drink pop or coffee.
  • The Patch (Score:3, Informative)

    by C60 (546704) * <salad@car[ ]60.net ['bon' in gap]> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:32PM (#7855676) Homepage
    Okay, so there isn't a patch, but there should be.

    To keep myself from turning into a raving lunatic without my coffee, I make a point of drinking one less cup of coffee a day for a week. Saturday night I take an ibuprofin, and sunday I go without coffee (or other stimulating beverages) completely. No withdrawls.

    Besides the fact that I'm incredibly poor and have a tendency to run out of coffee at the worst times, this is a habit I picked up when I was working 80 hour weeks. It had the added benefit of making the effects of my monday morning coffee all that much more stimulating. And of course, mondays were when I needed it the most.

    The magic key to success here is to drink lots of water. The best habit I have is to keep a 1 liter bottle of water with me at all times. It helps a lot with caffeine withdrawls, but only if you start drinking the water well before you start getting headaches. (I'm talking days before hand)
  • by WindBourne (631190) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:37PM (#7855717) Journal
    Most of the common addictions (nicoteine, alcohol, caffiene) have a short withdrawl period, usually just a couple of days.

    Obviously, you have not been a smoker, a drinker, or soda drinker.
    I have quite smoking twice. The first time, It was somewhat difficult, but not bad. I did not smoke for 6 months. Then I thought just one while at a bar. By the night I had smoked a packed and was back at it for about 4 years. When I quit the 2'nd time, it was a bitch. For the first week, I basically stade away from everyone; I was on a 1 week vacation and just kinda of slept through it. After that, I get rid of all my old smoking habits. To this day (3 years later), I still crave cigs when in old habits (such as eating and studying).

    In years past, I have drank large amounts (as well as did other things) and would be considered an alchoholic by some definations. Yet, I found it trivial to go with out for months on end. Each of us have their own addictions.

    So what is the point? If the poster is having a difficult time withdrawing and really wishes to, then I suggest taking about 1 week off from work, avoid old habits, and sleep it off. Once you get past it, then avoid all caffeine. Over time, you may be able to go back to a little bit, but based the posting, I doubt it.
  • by utahjazz (177190) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:50PM (#7855790)
    6 Diet Cokes has the caffeine of 2 cups of coffee. It is perfectly normal that that dosage wouldn't affect you. For coffee drinkers, it is not uncommon to drink 8 or more cups a day.
  • by jelle (14827) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:10PM (#7855919) Homepage
    Water ... "Ah, foul stuff that is."

    If you don't like the 'taste' of water, then you probably never had good clean water.

    Get a five stage Reverse Osmosis water filter [wattspremier.com]. They are truly amazing. They are so good they're in a whole different leage than those regular water/icemaker filters. The water from the reverse osmosis filter tastes better than bottled water. No foulness, no bitterness, no aftertastes, no lighheadedness, no smells, no nothing, just absolutely pure and clean water. Everything you make with it tastes better, even coffee or tea itself. About $150 at Samsclub, will last for years.
  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dixie_Flatline (5077) <vincent@jan@goh.gmail@com> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:11PM (#7855927) Homepage
    Migraines tend to be a problem where the blood vessels in your head expand, causing extra pressure in your head. This is why many migraine sufferers have 'aura' or weird visual effects. The expanded blood vessels put pressure on the optic nerve.

    Caffeine is a vaso-constrictor, meaning it makes your blood vessels contract. It's a common cure for mild migraines. I suppose you can consider it a painkiller in the sense that it works a bit like a mild anti-inflammatory. Other things that may help are ice on the side of the head that feels warmest (which is also fairly common with migraine - a feeling that one side of your head is extra warm.)

    Anti-inflammatories are commonly prescribed to fight migraine. Ibuprophen works on mild ones, you'll see Celebrex and other more powerful ones prescribed as well. Asprin is also a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory that works for some people.

    There are a lot of other migraine drugs out there, including a bunch of migraine abortives that work well, even on severe (ie. the kind that cause vomiting and extreme pain) migraines.

    I'm not a doctor, but my SO has had migraines for years. As a result, I know a lot about symptoms and (temporary) cures.

    Lastly, despite the fact that the tea has caffiene in it, does it really mean that you can't drink it anymore? I've cut all caffiene from my life, but I still enjoy the tea at the restaurant with no ill effect.
  • by muffen (321442) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:14PM (#7855941)
    I quit smoking too, and I did it cold turkey a few years ago. I didn't smoke for two years, but then I picked it up again (at burning man of all places in the world).

    Second time around, I was really pissed off at myself. I decided enough is enough, and I stopped, and haven't smoked for a while now. I've been weak at the pub a few times since I quit the second time, but I've managed to recover pretty nicely. Next morning when I woke up after having a cigarette in the pub, I decided it was only a minor setback, and I went on track straight away. Now it's been a few months since I had the last cigerette, and I feel really good.

    It may have been easier for me to quit smoking than a lot of people, because I didn't actually like smoking. I hated what it did to my throat. I'd wake up with a bad throat, and that annoyed me.

    BTW: I was smoking for around 7 years in total.

    I know that you are trying to break a caffeine addiction, but quitting smoking is very similiar. You just have to do it cold turkey. If it gets really bad, just remember why it is that way. Instead of thinking that a cup of coffie will fix the problem, remember that it is the source of the problem. You've come as far as asking for help, that means you really wanna quit... just do it!!

    In the end, only YOU can do it. Remeber that.
  • by yintercept (517362) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:14PM (#7855942) Homepage Journal
    This was for the forest service...so you would work for 12 hours in 100 degrees weather in a place that just happens to be on fire hitting the ground with a pulaski. I think they were worried about dehydration. I still find that I will drink 4 liters on a good day's bicycle ride.
  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:2, Informative)

    by the shoez (612273) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:16PM (#7855957)
    Watch the brand of ibuprofen you use though, because some of the "fast acting" brands actually contain caffeine ;)
  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:1, Informative)

    by BoldAC (735721) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:21PM (#7855990)
    Here's one doctor's experience and suggestions getting off caffeine. [life-recipes.com]

    He describes his difficulty quitting cold turkey... and describes ways of cutting down.

    When I tried to quit, I found this helpful.

    AC
  • by ath0mic (519762) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:21PM (#7855991)
    FYI, Moutain Dew in Canada (in Ontario at least) contains no caffeine. IIRC it is illegal to caffeinate non-cola carbonated beverages up here in the frozen north.
  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:3, Informative)

    by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(tms) (at) (infamous.net)> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:44PM (#7856110) Homepage
    Addiction is all in the mind.
    No. Addiction - real addition, not the "psychological addiction" people have started bandying about - is a physiological change in the nervous system. The body becomes reliant on the presence of a substance, and does not function properly without it.

    This is why withdrawl has physiological effects. In the case of alcohol or barbituates, the effects can be deadly, with other drugs

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:46PM (#7856118)
    The B vitiamin you are refering to is vitamin B-3, also know as Niacin, Niacinamide, Nicotinic Acid, or Nicotinamide. And it is not nicotine, just a similiar word.
  • by ethanms (319039) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:55PM (#7856157)
    Actually... my original question was edited a bit before they posted... I wanted a /. opinion about coffee and caffeine, and I specifically pointed out that OSDN's Think Geek has entire sections devoted to products like soap, candy, water, etc that are LOADED w/ caffeine.

    I just get it from normal sources like coffee and soda... but there must be someone out there who is showering with caffeine soap, brushing his/her teeth with caffeine toothpaste, drinking H2Joe, etc...

    Anyway, quitting is also somewhat harder then just the physical symptoms because the routine of "getting a coffee" is stuck in me at this point... Not having coffee randomly during the day is easy enough, but there's a social aspect to it, just like going out to have a smoke w/ some friends...

    I get to work, check last nights email, then go down to get a coffee w/ some friends (we don't smoke)... around 2-3pm we all go out to starbucks or dunkin' donuts for another...

    And on the weekends sometimes I work w/ an electrician, they look at you like you have three heads if you show up with a water or an OJ in the morning instead of a large coffee.

    I wasn't looking for medical advice really, just looking to see how other people, similar to myself, deal with a substance like coffee that is everywhere and can have a powerful affect on your performance and mood.
  • by epine (68316) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:26PM (#7856292)

    Drinking that much coffee is not good for the body. I learned the hard way: wore out my adrenal system.

    It's not so easy to quit as some people suggest.

    First time I quit cold turkey, spent three days in bed with wracking headaches and no appetite for food. The headaches became less severe after three days, but my body was not yet at peace. Suffered unproductively for the better part of two weeks and then started drinking coffee again to get on with my life. But a lot less than before.

    Another iteration of quiting and unquiting got me down to about two or three large cups a day.

    Then I had a prescription medication that interacted badly with caffeine and I had to quit again. Still had the headaches for several days, but this time my life didn't stall completely. A month later I still couldn't function at full intensity, so I started drinking one cup each morning.

    At one cup of moderately strong coffee, I can quit anytime without a headache. At 1.5 cups per day, missing a day is risky. At 2 cups per day, I'm fully addicted. It can vary over a wide range from one person to another.

    After many hard fought battles, I figure it takes the best part of three months for the body to fully adjust to a different caffeince consumption level. People forget that coffee has hundreds of other alkaloids, not just caffeine. Decaf coffee affects cognitive structure (not in a good way) without causing the same vascular effects.

    Now I stick to about one cup a day, the level where I know I'm not addicted. Can miss a day with only a little blah to deal with.

    Tea never worked at all as a caffeine substitute for me, nor do any of the colas. It's not just the caffeine you have to live without.

    The best trick I learned was to change my brewing methods.

    First, use a high quality dark roast with intense flavour. Dark roast has less caffeine, because some of the caffeine is destroyed in the roaasting process. If the roast is good, I find I'm less tempted to cheat on the ratio.

    Don't use a French press. I love the body of a French press, but it comes at the price of extracting in triplicate. I switched to drip, which was (un)depressing at first, but I got used to it.

    Grind your own beans. Some roasts can be ground a lot finer without losing flavor or becoming bitter. A fine grind with a quick brew cycle will extract more flavour relative to the amount of caffeine. Don't ask me about the physics, I don't understand it either.

    Brew in smaller batches. I used to use brew length as an indicator for the quality of a roast. If the roast can be extracted in a French press for more than four minutes without becoming nasty, the roast is really good. With a French press, the coffee tastes better if you pour from about ten inches above the top of the Bodum in a slow drizzle. I could never figure out why this worked, but then I learned that this is just enough time for the water temp. to drop below 200 degrees. Water right at the boiling point does something nasty to coffee beans. But, oh, I was saying don't use a French press only the memories are too good.

    Even with a drip, the extraction cycle is important. The problem is that if the coffee tastes like crap, my first instinct is to fix the problem by tossing twice as many grounds in the filter basket.

    Drip coffee makers don't scale: the length of the extraction cycle varies with the amount of water processed. Shorter extraction cycles are better for getting good coffee with less caffeine.

    For my small Braun drip, anything over half a pot creates difficulties with balance. I drew a black line at the fill level which produces an optimum exrtraction cycle: it works out to two 10 ounce cups.

    Even with the black line, I had a constant battle with an expanding miniscus. Some days I could make that miniscus so large, I could squeeze an entire third mug out of the deal.

    The stroke of genius was to throw the caraffe away. Now I brew my coffee
  • by jelle (14827) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:30PM (#7856330) Homepage
    Cooking just kills the bacteria, so you'll end up with water that won't give you an infection, but you're still left with water that contains the dead bacteria, and other dissolved substances (chlorine, various dissolved salts) and (small) particles (metals (lead), dirt) that, in addition to possibly making the water less healthy, can (and usually does) make it taste bad. To just kill the bacteria, people sometimes use a UV light filter in their water lines.

    The RO filter is the last one after other filters that filter out particles of decreasing size. The RO filter goes down to particles of 1/10000 micron (that is 0.1nm. Compare with a 90nm feature size for the smallest transistors today. So you can probably run the water from an RO filter over an uncoated bare silicon wafer without leaving damaging particles all over it).

    Boats sometimes use RO filters to make drinking water from water from the ocean.
  • by TheLittleJetson (669035) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:42PM (#7856402)
    I am not an entho-botanist (?), but uh... as far as I know, tobbacco (nicotine) stimulates the release of a neurotransmitter associated with memory recognition. So it does have beneficial effects beyond calming the addict's cravings... -m
  • by xigxag (167441) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:01PM (#7856518)
    (mod parent up, someone - he made some good points)

    Well, that's at least a cogent counterargument. But let me make myself clear. I am not saying I agree or disagree that we need 8 glasses of water a day. I'm saying that I'm a skeptic. I agree with Valtin's argument that proof we need such a large amount of drinking water for everyday activity is suspiciously lacking. It seems to be ubiquitously 'common knowledge' and 'doctor recommended' but for something which is so strongly preached by "the entire medical world," as you state with some accuracy, shouldn't there be volumes of studies? Where are they? At the very least, I'd expect to see something demonstrating that healthy octogenarians drank more water during their lives then their sick and deceased cohorts. As it is, the best pro-water study I could come up with turned out to be sponsored by Brita [brita.co.uk]. That's not very reassuring.

    It could very well be that Valtin's a crackpot. But is he wrong?

    (BTW, I do drink plenty of water myself. Pascal's Wager [infidels.org], and all that.)
  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:11PM (#7856568)
    Acetone is naturally produced in the body when acetoacetate spontaneously decarboxylates to form it (instead of being enzymatically reduced by NADH to beta-hydroxybutyrate). When people go on that Atkins diet, the ketogenesis overflow pathway is very active and you can smell acetone on their breath. Plus it is present in dietary sources. So the body can handle its presence and you can ingest a tablespoon of acetone with no ill effect. But the OP wasn't talking about acetone. It was talking about nicotine, and claiming it is legitimately found in the body. It is not.

    Whether or not it's called a "poison", if you're going to claim that nicotine is produced naturally in the body, the onus is on you to say where.

  • Free advice here (Score:3, Informative)

    by The Tyro (247333) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:17PM (#7856601)
    since I am a doctor, and have a caffeine addiction of my own. Like many geeks, I've come to love that particular methyl-xanthine, and have a weaknesses for it (a hankering for mountain dew, to be specific).

    There's no easy way to go off caffeine... there's no magic, or I can assure you I'd use it on myself. I've found the gradual wean to be the best route (speaking only for myself, of course).

    Mostly, I live with my caffeine habit. It comes from years of working night shift, and it helps me to function and take better care of patients. If it helps you, and you're not going nuts with it, why not keep using it? It's really a fairly harmless drug in moderate doses (DO NOT take too much... I've treated caffeine-induced illnesses including supra-ventricular tachycardias, seizures, etc, in my ER... even sent a few to the ICU... moderation is key). Women seem to have more problems with caffeine, primarily related to fibrocystic disease of the breast. We sometimes use caffeine theraputically... post-lumbar-puncture headaches, and migraines are often curable with caffeine. Feel a migraine coming on? Try slamming a 20oz dew; patients have reported success with that trick. Again, YMMV.

    So anyway, that's the extent of my caffeine knowledge, free for the digesting.
  • by dipipanone (570849) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:23PM (#7856631)
    Houses are cheap.

    They are if you live Buttfuck, Nebraska or in your mom's basement. They aren't if you live in London or New York and have ten years worth of mortgage payments in equity.

    Freebasing is a long forgotten art.

    By the time you've developed a taste for it, you'll find that whipping up a few rocks with bicarb in the microwave achieves exactly the same effects. And there's nothing at all artful about spending a weekend picking your face, pulling your hair out or crawling around the carpet looking for that last tiny piece of rock that you swore you'd dropped.
  • by SkOink (212592) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:49PM (#7856764) Homepage
    The problem with water filters is that, while they do filter out anything which might taste a bit odd to you, they actually remove a number of helpful things from the water, which are added by your local water department (e.g. vitamin B, and fluorine, the dental benefits of which are substantial and documented), and some things which aren't (the amount of iron accumulated in processing and pipes is well within the range of useful to your body). Other sediment picked up along the way isn't particularly harmful either, although it does nothing for you.

    So really, if you drank nothing but fresh and clean, pure water from day one, you'd have awful and horrible teeth. Ask your local dentist about the benefits of fluoridized water if you don't believe me.
  • by unconfused1 (173222) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:49PM (#7856770) Homepage

    Please don't flame me immediately and gripe how this is so stupid. I'm just going to propose something that really isn't scientifically based...just based soley on observations of people I know who complain that they must be addicted to caffeine. So, just take it for what its worth, and if it is nothing to you...then no worries.

    Now that the disclaimer is there, what I wonder is if there is really such a thing as caffeine addiction at all...at least not with the caffeine consumption level that the grand majority of people have?

    Someone else must of shown this already in a post, but from poking around other caffeine content studies I found that the following drinks (in ounces) have the amount of caffeine (in milligrams) in them listed after the drink:

    • 7-Up, 12oz = 0 mg caffeine
    • Mountain Dew (Canadian), 12oz = 0mg
    • Pepsi, 12oz = 37.2mg
    • Dr. Pepper, 12oz = 39.6mg
    • Tea, 7oz brewed (such as Lipton tea bags) = ~40mg
    • Coke, 12oz = 45.6mg
    • Mellow Yellow, 12oz = 52.8mg
    • Mountain Dew (American), 12oz = 55.0mg
    • Tea (imported), 7oz brewed (like Republic of Tea caffeinate blends) = ~60mg
    • Afri-Cola (German), 12oz = 100 mg caffeine
    • Espresso, 1 shot, or 1.5-2.0oz = ~100mg
    • Coffee (drip), 7oz = ~145mg caffeine

    I put the "~" or approximately in there just because some brew tea weaker or stronger depending on what they like. Same with coffee.

    But what that means is that the 16 ounce glass of coffee I buy from my local coffee shop in the morning has approx. 330mg of caffeine in it...assuming that I drink the whole cup. That is like drinking SIX cans of Mountain Dew, except for one thing......no sugar.

    The USDA recommends that the average person have no more than 10 TEASPOONS of sugar PER DAY (40 grams). But look at the sugar content in these drinks and food items:

    • 1 teaspoon of sugar = 4 grams
    • Yogurt, 8oz, lowfat fruit-flavored = 28 grams
    • 7-Up, 12oz = 39 grams
    • Coke, 12oz = 39 grams of sugar
    • Pepsi, 12oz = 41 grams
    • Mountain Dew, 12oz = 46 grams
    • Cinnabon cinnamon roll = 48 grams

    So by drinking ONE 12oz CAN of Mountain Dew you exceed the USDA's recommendation by 1.5 teaspoons of sugar. Most people that I know who drink soda generally have two 12oz cans or even two 16oz plastic bottles of soda per day. Or others even have those 24oz "refill" cups.

    Now for me, even though I have ~330-660mg of caffeine in my one or two 16oz cups of coffee each day...I can easily take a weekend off without coffee and suffer absolutely zero side effects. Now...this wouldn't be the case for my mother, as an example, who drinks FAR more coffee per day than I do. She drip-brews fresh ground coffee all day long...so she might have 32-64oz EVERY day, and she does get headaches if she goes without, unlike myself with my intake.

    So, what I'm suggesting is that most people who claim they are caffeine addicted are more likely addicted to the sugars they get with their soda, or the sugars that they get with their "treat" they have with their coffee, since the body can become addicted to sugars as well far more easily than caffeine.

    Thoughts?

  • Actually, no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Tyro (247333) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @10:58PM (#7856809)
    Disclaimer: I'm an ER doc, and I treat several migraine patients a day.

    The origin of migraines is incompletely understood, and the vascular theory is only one of the hypotheses that are used to explain the origin of migraines. In addition to the vascular theory, some evidence points to serotonin and dopamine receptor involvement... the truth of the matter is that nobody knows.

    However, that said, read this thread and you'll understand why an entire industry has grown up around migraine treatment... everyone's are different. There are entire clinics and centers that do nothing but treat migraines... do an internet search and you'll find some. There are neurologists out there who make a good living treating nothing but migraines.

    If you read the list of medications that are used to treat migraines, it reads like a pharmacy inventory... everything from cardiac medications to anti-seizure medications, sedatives, steroids, anesthetics, narcotics, anti-psychotics, and everything inbetween. If a person has migraines long enough, they eventually find out something that works for them, primarily through trial and error... once you go through the common drugs with no relief, there's almost no other way to find a treatment for refractory migraines.

    For my own part, I've found one thing that almost universally relieves migraines: sleep. Sometimes the treatment of a particularly severe migraine involves nothing short of knocking a person out with drugs so that they can go home and sleep it off.

    Back on topic, however... caffeine is an effective treatment for migraines, particularly in the early phase of the headache. Keep in mind, however, that one man's meat is invariably another man's poison: caffeine relieves migraines in most people, but causes them in others.

    All I can say is know your triggers, avoid them, and treat EARLY.

  • Re:Water & Exercise (Score:5, Informative)

    by electroniceric (468976) on Friday January 02, 2004 @12:39AM (#7857503)
    Let me add an additional incentive: caffeine, as with many stimulants can do unpleasant things to your heart.

    From http://www.cdc-cdh.edu/hospital/cardio/art44.html [cdc-cdh.edu]:
    Does caffeine cause dangerous heart irregularity?:

    Yes, even in persons who are "otherwise healthy." In patients with coronary artery heart disease, with or without angina (chest pains), and/or hypertension (high blood pressure), drinking coffee or cola drinks, or drinking or eating chocolates, can precipitate a heart irregularity called PVCs (Premature Ventricular Contractions) or even palpitation (rapid heart pounding).

    Now before folks call me alarmist, this is not true of everybody. I happen to be someone with a very high sensitivity to caffeine, and one of my brothers has this too, though interestingly neither of my parents do. I discovered how sensitive I was to caffeine after it put me in the cardiac wing of a hospital for a day and a half with an atrial fibrillation, even though I am fit and don't smoke.

    That experience has left me thinking that people are awfully blasee about using what can be a very strong stimulant for people with certain biochemistry. So let me add that to all the other excellent advice about getting used to drinking water.

    One other thought:
    If you don't have hypertension, you might try snacking on sunflower seeds periodically. The salt gives you a wicked urge to drink water, and the seeds take enough work to crack that you don't really go through that many calories.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @01:20AM (#7857770)
    My problem is I can't get laid. How does your catch all solution of "JUST STOP IT" work for me? You insensitive clod.

    Stop jerkin your gherkin, and slowly but steadily the hormones will build up in your system, your genetic heritage will take over, and you'll do the "right" things, and say the "right" stuff that will get you laid, even if you look like Janet Reno.
  • by freeweed (309734) on Friday January 02, 2004 @03:07AM (#7858289)
    Fluoridated water is fine and dandy if you don't take care of your teeth. If it's really a problem for you, brush twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste (practically all are, these days), and see your dentist twice a year for fluoride treatments.

    Systemmic ingenstion of fluoride does very little once your adult teeth grow in, it's the topical application that really does the trick.
  • Re:cut your dosage (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @05:27AM (#7858678)
    Tea is actually a really good way to wean yourself from caffeine if cold turkey isn't working for you. Tea comes in MANY varieties, and has different amounts of caffeine for each (do a little research). You can find some that are nearly as high in caffeine per cup as coffee, and others as low as 1mg per cup.

    Find some types that you really *enjoy* the flavor of, and then order them from highest caffeine to lowest. Figure out a schedule and work your way down accordingly.

    Not only did this work for me, but there are a lot of other benefits to drinking tea or green tea.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:25AM (#7859140)
    Cut the sugar first.
    Your symptoms indicate that your also addicted to sugar. (Especially that 'pain in the ass' part - know that myself)
    From what I understand you get you fix by drinking 'saturated sugar solutions' (Mountain Dew (eeeugh!) etc.) with added caffeine.
    I'd suggest you deal with that sugar first. When you can go for a week without sugar, caffein will be the easy part, I'd guess.

    And don't drink the crappy coffee. Buy the fair trade stuff that passes the extra money straight to the bean farmers in south america. Three pluses: You get better coffee (the quality differences are substancial), the coffee farmers don't have to live in de-facto slavery and you pay a little more for your fix, so you'll probably cut down on it in the long run anyway.
  • by gravelpup (305775) <rockdog&gmail,com> on Friday January 02, 2004 @09:04AM (#7859248) Journal
    But I've found that an all-night decongestant removes that and lets me bounce easily out of bed in the morning

    This most likely has pseudoephedrine in it, which is a stronger stimulant than caffeine.

  • by NickFusion (456530) on Friday January 02, 2004 @10:14AM (#7859545) Homepage
    Lay off the coffee, dude....

    But yes, having been there and back again in my misspent youth (the dew, and vivarin, an overnight job, 5 hours a sleep a day for a couple of years, complete with palpitations), I can say that all it takes is a tapering off, combined with drinking water (not decaf anything, not sprite, not OJ...water).

    Also went the cold turkey route a couple of times, and it was like a mild flu, for a day and a half.

    That said, I wasn't on coffee, and I swear, there is more to coffee than caffiene. It's sinister.

    Largely free of the stuff today. What I discovered, in addition to all the reported effects, is that the combination of dehydration & vaso-constriction dramatically aggravates lower back pain.
  • I beat it (Score:2, Informative)

    by WhytTiger (595699) on Friday January 02, 2004 @10:55AM (#7859839)
    I just got out of college, and was rather addicted myself (I would usually opt for the 2 liter bottles of pepsi or dew instead of 20 oz, but would drink them in a day anyway). I decided for my health that it would be best to cut caffeine from my diet. I started out by only cutting soda, as that was the majority of my intake, I would replace it by drinking huge amounts of water (be ready to go use the restroom every 30 minutes at first). I'm pretty sure that the water helped me get around the worst of the headaches. I am now to the point where I'll have a pop at lunch, and if I'm ever wanting something to drink, I'll usually go for tea or juice, just make sure you have alternatives to pop, and it's a good start.
  • by halfelven (207781) on Friday January 02, 2004 @03:57PM (#7862351)
    The symptoms you described are due to your body not being able anymore to deal with the drug. They are the forerunners of more serious problems. The solution is not to increase the consumption, not to stay at same levels, not even to just decrease it, but to quit altogether. I am not a doctor, so take my advice with a grain of salt.

    I used to drink a lot of coffee some years ago, up to ten cups a day maybe. My hands started to shake, and quite often i would get almost drunk because of caffeine (it's strange but real: past a certain threshold, caffeine makes you "drugged" pretty much like alcohol).
    My method of getting rid of the nasty habit was a silent yet firm resolution to gradually push it out of the system. I just started to think (well, actually "feel" not think in the intellectual/logical sense) calmly, even-mindedly but persistently that i must stop it.
    I didn't feel guilty or anything when drinking an occasional cup, i just rehashed my resolution. As an aid, or temporary "crutch" of sorts, because i actually like the taste of coffee i started to replace "real" coffee with decaf. Temporarily, i used to drink cola or stuff like that if i really craved for caffeine; after a while, i started to avoid even those things and drink non-caffeinated cola (all major brands offer non-caffeinated versions, at least in USA). The problem with cola is that the sugar can ruin your teeth (yes, i used to drink a lot!) and overall it's not one of the healthiest things to ingest. The "diet" versions (sugar replaced by artificial sweeteners) are even worse. Again, i am not a doctor, these are just my uneducated guesses.

    The gradual changes that i described are not something that i planned. The only thing that mattered was the calm yet stubborn resolution. All else emerged from that without me intending it in an organized fashion - they were just things that became obvious by themselves, as time passed by.
    I guess i was only more stubborn than the habit. :-) To rehash, the key ingredients were: calm, peace of mind (no guilt, no agitation due to "ohmygod i'm an addict and i'm f***ed"), persistence, reiterating the decision as many times as necessary. Oh, and time. Lots of time and patience.

    It took me a year, maybe two, to make it disappear. I can't tell when was the precise date when the habit died, because there was no such date. Rather, it withered out like a plant lacking water.

    Nowadays there is no craving at all. I still like the taste of coffee, but i drink the occasional decaf instead. Actually, i developed quite an addiction for... decaf vanilla white mocha! Translation for those unaware of this typical article in american coffee shops: this is something you could pretty much safely feed to a little child (except that you don't want a child getting addicted to the taste of coffee-based drinks at a young age), because it's decaf coffee, cocoa, milk, vanilla, sugar and whipped cream... mmmm... tasty... But that's a harmless addiction, i'd reckon, at least for an underweight like me.
    I can even safely drink now "normal" coffee, if i'm extremely tired and bored, i have no energy to summon up my strength by sheer will power, but i have a difficult and important task to deal with which is worth the damage. I also accept a coffee when it's offered to me, and i do that only as a social thing, if i feel that a flat out refusal would not be appropriate for the situation. But i do that perhaps once a year, or maybe not even that often. Anyway there is no tendency of the addiction to get back, it's like it vanished altogether.
    And actually, i don't even get the normal jolt from caffeine anymore; if i drink the occasional caffeinated cola, there is only a small perceivable effect on my state of mind, and if i drink a big strong coffee i actually feel uncomfortable and edgy (there must be some pretty strong self-suggestion that i injected into my brain while quitting if even the perception of the physical effects changed).

    My personal opinion is that caffeine doesn't a

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