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Medicine Science

Beware the Perils of Caffeine Withdrawal 700

Posted by timothy
from the to-make-a-grown-man-cry dept.
palegray.net writes "CNN is running an article on the notorious effects of caffeine withdrawal, a problem that seems to be affecting an increasing number of people. Citing numerous reasons why people might need to cut back on their caffeine intake (pregnancy, pre-surgery requirements, etc), the story notes a significant number of people who are simply unable to quit. I drink around eight cups of coffee a day, along with a soda or two, and I definitely suffer from nasty withdrawal symptoms without my fix."
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Beware the Perils of Caffeine Withdrawal

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  • Bah (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lord Grey (463613) * on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:50AM (#27490377)

    I drink around eight cups of coffee a day, along with a soda or two, and I definitely suffer from nasty withdrawal symptoms without my fix.

    You, sir, are a member of the Caffeine Underacheivers Club of the World. Until you can regularly consume an average of three or four pots of coffee in day (30 to 40 cups) without experiencing caffeine intoxication [wikipedia.org], you have no idea what how "nasty" withdrawal can get.

    I'm at that point, I admit it. Withdrawal, for me, starts after about eight hours without caffeine. I get a serious headache, quickly followed by nausea and a general flu-like feeling. Left unattended, it's damn-near incapacitating. Fortunately, a single cup of coffee vanquishes all symptoms within 30 minutes.

    Anyway, is this caffeine withdrawal stuff really news to anyone? Anyone?

    • Re:Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:55AM (#27490461) Journal

      Compared to both of you I am a complete lightweight, but I still experience headaches, depression, etc, when I go without.

      I'm definitely going with "Not news." Caffeine is a drug, we're addicted.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SlashDotDotDot (1356809) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:05PM (#27490633) Journal

        Compared to both of you I am a complete lightweight

        I may be the lightest lightweight I know. I average 24 oz. of coffee and two cans of soda a day. If I have more than that I get pretty dysfunctional--irritable, nervous, sleepless. If I quit, I have one day of headaches and nausea followed by many days of sluggishness and cravings. I can't say how many days, since I always fall off the wagon.

        I find that I really can't write code without caffeine anymore. Maybe I never could. It makes me sad to think that I need a stimulant to do my job, but there it is...

        • by default luser (529332) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:17PM (#27490871) Journal

          I used to be addicted to the high, but I couldn't stand the lows - migraine-like headache for hours (sensitivity to light, sound, etc.). I tried taking more caffeine to keep the lows away, but that ended the same - once I crashed, I got a migraine-like headache that wouldn't go away until I got a good-nights sleep. The worst part was, I would crash DURING THE WORKDAY, so my work performance was actually suffering.

          Once I understood that the migraines were from withdrawal, I decided to quit cold-turkey - nothing but aspirin and lots of water. I took a long weekend over July 4th: the first day was pure anguish and pain, and the second day was worse. But the third day, I could function, and I was feeling pretty good by the fourth day when I went back to work.

          After a week, I felt better than I had for years, and I was surprised to find I didn't have the cravings anymore. I also had more get-up-and-go in the mornings than I ever did on caffeine. And YES, I could code just as well without the boost.

          If you've got even an ounce of willpower, you can quit too, but I would recommend taking a long weekend away from the world.

          • by fprintf (82740) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:37PM (#27491247) Journal

            If you replace the word "caffeine" in your entire post with "sugar" or "sweets" that would accurately describe me. Unfortunately I have fallen off the wagon and am seriously addicted to it again. Time to go cold turkey as the weight is starting to creep back up.

          • by severoon (536737) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:53PM (#27491539) Journal

            Oh, gee, I drink 8 cups of strong coffee per day and 2 huge servings of soft drinks. Unbelievably, after several years of doing this, I have problems!

            Uhh, yea, dumb-dumb. At what point in your life did you think it was a good idea to drink that fourth cup of coffee in the same day, much less four more? I think this condition is known as: epic brainpower fail.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            I find that the best way to get away from caffeine addiction is to cut back. If you halve your intake every day, then you likely won't experience any withdrawal symptoms, but will have a logarithmic recovery time. Another option is to consume half a cup (or less) of coffee when you start to feel withdrawal. It doesn't take much caffeine to clear up the effects.
          • by bitt3n (941736) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:12PM (#27491867)

            If you've got even an ounce of willpower, you can quit too.

            I was once addicted to willpower. Then I went cold turkey and caved in to every craving, and now I feel much better.

          • by MrDERP (1004577) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:18PM (#27491949) Homepage
            I like the english idea of small amounts of weak tea during the day for cafeine vs. the megablast followed by dehydration and a crash. I switched from DARK coffee to 2-3 cups of green tea a day, the L-theanine in the green tea is good to keep the jitters away.
            • by fantomas (94850) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @05:09PM (#27495773)

              You want to come to the East End of London, me old china, and I'll show you tea that isn't weak! Proper builders brews.

              I'm telling you, you could stand a spoon in some of the brews you get down the proper caffs. Proper traditional places with a big tea pot always on the go, they pour you a couple of inches from that into a mug and then top up the other 2/3 of the mug with hot water. I swear the tea in those big tea pots is some sort of nuclear brew that's been stewing in there since the days the Cutty Sark used to sail up the Thames, they just top it up with a couple more spoonfuls of leaf tea every Christmas and it gets heavier and heavier and more and more evil.

              My first job was in a hospital with a couple of retired Navy guys, they'd been through the war, I was the youngest so I was "the boy" and any time we had a problem I was sent to make a pot of tea so we could stand there with our mugs and suck our teeth and sip our tea and work out how to get the box through the door or whatever. Taught me how to make proper strong brews those lads did.

              I think your green tea is the happy asian gentle stuff*, nothing wrong with it but not for yer average British builder, you know... you'd get laughed off a site if you tried bringing that along...

              cheers though! Nothing like a lovely cup of tea eh? (or 10 or so).

              *no disrespect to asian builders, I bet if you're on a building site in Singapore or Tokyo or wherever the lads there can probably brew green tea to some frightening level of intensity too...

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by fifedrum (611338)

            add to this story with some mild psychosis, paranoid feelings, general anxiety and heart burn and you have my experience. Maybe with some potassium deficiencies too.

            I just can't process the stuff. The initial high is nice, but the build-up over time has such huge negative effects that I'm just a wreck after a few weeks. The heart burn really is the signal that the other symptoms are not far behind.

            Usually it starts with nightmares! Yes, all this and more, caused by caffeine.

            Go cold turkey, and a week later,

          • Decaffeinated coffees have finally gotten to taste pretty good over the last couple of decades; it's much better than the evil days of powdered Sanka. Rather than cutting off cold-turkey, you can start brewing your coffee with half decaf, and gradually decreasing the amount of real stuff.

            I've done cold turkey on occasion - I'd been working on a death-march programming project, and by a couple of days before we had to ship our demo, I'd reached the point that coffee wasn't making me more awake, it was just

        • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

          by Fnkmaster (89084) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:17PM (#27490873)

          The Spice extends life. The Spice expands consciousness. The Spice is vital to space travel. The Spacing Guild and its navigators, who the Spice has mutated over 4000 years, use the orange Spice gas, which gives them the ability to fold space.

          Somebody really was drinking too much coffee when they wrote that shit.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:15PM (#27490823)

        We need prohibition! War on caffeine, Columbian coffee beans clearly constitute an Axis of Withdrawal Symptoms!

        We need to construct a massive wall, in the sea, between us and Mexico to stop these evil coffee lords and their satanic beans from getting in to the US!

        God Bless America!

      • Maintenance Dose (Score:5, Insightful)

        by wsanders (114993) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:54PM (#27491559) Homepage

        There is the concept of "maintenance dose" in addiction. I find that just one soda, small cup of coffee / Nescafe, or one No-Doz are enough to forestall the headaches. One or two days of this "maintenence dose" and I can go cold turkey.

        Really, cut down on the sodas. The coffee is fine, but as soon as I started working at a place without free sodas, I lost ten pounds and my blood sugar went down 20 points.

      • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:41PM (#27493489)

        I had to give up caffeine. Long story short, I fell while working on a roof and hit my chest hard on a pile of bricks. Most likely damaged my pericardium. [wikipedia.org]

        While it healed up, anything that made my heart beat harder made the pain worse. So that meant caffeine - all of it - had to go.

        Week long headache. A whopper too, right in the temples. Miserable. But once it's gone, it's gone for good. You can beat it if you have to.

        Some advice if you're willing to try. Avoid Excederin. It's a caffeine pill mostly - that's why it cures headaches. It gives you another fix and postpones the withdraw another 8-12 hours. Then you need another one. Avoid chocolate. Read labels. And avoid yerba mate - it has caffeine. If you're going to do it, the only way to do it is cold turkey, 100%. Even the slightest sprinkle of caffeine will halt ALL your progress and you'll have to start from scratch again. And that means another week's worth of headaches.

        Anyways, after I healed up I never went back. I am a decaffeinated programmer. Rarest of the rare. It feels great, too. No nervousness, no sweats, my nails look great. And I sleep better than I ever have. That's one of the reasons computer types stay up late - they have to come down off the caffeine before they can sleep.

        Once it's out of your life and you have that reference to make a comparison from, you realize just how big of a drug caffeine actually is. It's messing with you more than you probably think it is.

    • Re:Bah (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:58AM (#27490523)

      I had to cut back for surgery awhile back and I found that simply mixing a little bit of regular coffee in with decaf worked like a charm. It didn't even need to be half and half, even just one part caffeinated in four was sufficient to stave off the headaches and malaise.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

        by Samschnooks (1415697) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:20PM (#27490923)

        I had to cut back for surgery awhile back and I found that simply mixing a little bit of regular coffee in with decaf worked like a charm. It didn't even need to be half and half, even just one part caffeinated in four was sufficient to stave off the headaches and malaise.

        I just went and switched to scotch.

    • Re:Bah (Score:5, Informative)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:05PM (#27490631) Journal

      You, sir, are a member of the Caffeine Underacheivers Club of the World. Until you can regularly consume an average of three or four pots of coffee in day (30 to 40 cups) without experiencing caffeine intoxication, you have no idea what how "nasty" withdrawal can get.

      So you're not experiencing caffeine intoxication... good for you. Have you had to expel kidney stones yet? How about the other side effects from caffeine poisoning? Have you had your renal function tested? How's the chronic diarrhea going?

      I'm a caffeine addict too, but I've cut down to 1d4 + 3 cups per day. I've had kidney stones and luckily ultrasound treatment broke them up so I didn't have to pass them whole. You're damaging your body, please cut down.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by blincoln (592401) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:26PM (#27491077) Homepage Journal

        Seriously. Mod parent up. I went to see a neurologist a few years ago and she was visibly horrified when I told her I drank about 6 cups of coffee a day.

        I tried quitting altogether, but in the end I just cut back to 2-3 cups of black tea per day. It seems to have a more gradual, "extended release" effect that I prefer anyway. I'll also have half a cup of diet cola on the days that I go running.

        Multiple pots of coffee a day? Especially on a regular basis? That's pretty much committing suicide in slow motion.

        If you have trouble with low energy, try getting some cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis. Your body will work better as a result too, instead of crashing when the caffeine wears off. For me, getting my (giant) tonsils removed helped as well, because it meant I slept much better at night.

        • Re:Bah (Score:5, Informative)

          by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:34PM (#27491205) Homepage

          Seriously. Mod parent up. I went to see a neurologist a few years ago and she was visibly horrified when I told her I drank about 6 cups of coffee a day.

          That's funny, I live in Finland, which is proud of being one of the greatest coffee consumers in the world (something like an average of 6-8 cups a day per capita), and yet I've never heard public health warnings about drinking too much coffee. And I'm sure I would hear something if it were really that dangerous, as this is a welfare state that tries to limit unhealthy habits in order to save on healthcare expenses (the gov hopes to completely wipe out smoking soon).

          • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

            by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:51PM (#27491503)

            When they came for the smokers,
            I sat drinking my coffee and watched.

            When they came for my coffee,
            yada yada yada.

            ---

            Looks like I picked the wrong day to quit cocaine.

          • Re:Bah (Score:5, Informative)

            by Raffaello (230287) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:14PM (#27491883)

            Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] suggests why:
            A 2006 study by Dr Ahmed El-Sohemy at the University of Toronto discovered a link between a gene effecting caffeine metabolism and the effects of coffee on health. [96] [97] Some people have a gene to metabolize caffeine more slowly, and for them drinking large quantities of coffee was found to increase the risk of myocardial infarction. [a.k.a. heart attack] For rapid metabolizers, however, coffee seemed to have a preventative effect. Slow and fast metabolizers are comparably common in the general population, and this has been blamed for the wide variation in studies of the health effects of caffeine.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Some people have a gene to...

              If only every study came with this caveat because by and large, genetics determine how and to what extent anything will affect you.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Curtman (556920) *

            And I'm sure I would hear something if it were really that dangerous, as this is a welfare state that tries to limit unhealthy habits in order to save on healthcare expenses

            They just aren't drinking enough alcohol to break up the stones.

        • Re:Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BitZtream (692029) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @03:14PM (#27493971)

          Doctors are horrified of everything you do.

          Everything will kill you, given enough time. If your neurologist was freaked out about 6 cups of coffee, then you need to stop using doctors fresh out of med school, or probably still in school that haven't been in the real world long enough to know that all the shit they were told in school is generally made out to be a lot worse than it really is.

          I am not a doctor, but my wife is. She almost spit her coffee out as she laughed at your neurologist comment.

          If you continue to listen to your scare mongering neurologist, you'll end up dead from a heart attack because she will make sure your brain and nervous system are fine, but in the process she'll destroy your heart, liver, kidneys, and most of the rest of your body with medication or stupidity or both.

          If you think drinking that much coffee is committing suicide, then you should go talk to some rheumatoidologist's and see how bad your typing is killing you.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:29PM (#27491135)

        I'm a caffeine addict too, but I've cut down to 1d4 + 3 cups per day.

        Let's go ahead and talk about that *other* addiction...

        • Re:Bah (Score:4, Funny)

          by JimFive (1064958) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:30PM (#27493327)

          I'm a caffeine addict too, but I've cut down to 1d4 + 3 cups per day.

          Let's go ahead and talk about that *other* addiction...

          I just wondered if he rolled the d4 in the morning, or after the 3rd cup to figure out how many he got to drink that day.
          --
          JimFive

        • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

          by sploxx (622853) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:34PM (#27493391)

          Maybe he just made a typo and really meant 1e4 + 3 cups per day. That'd be a lot :-)

        • Re:Bah (Score:5, Funny)

          by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @03:26PM (#27494125) Journal

          Let's go ahead and talk about that *other* addiction...

          No really, in the AM I roll a 4-sided die and add three to it. That is my limit on coffee for the day.

          If it's a weekday, I then roll d% to find out if I'm going to work, and at what time. Since I have 20 vacation days, and there are approximately 250 workdays in the year, I have an 8% chance of calling out for the day. If I roll 09-12, I go in late. If I roll 96-00, then I work overtime.

          Once I get to work, I look at my email inbox. I roll a d6 surreptitiously. If I roll a 1, I address the email. If I roll a 2-5, I pass it on to a team member offshore. If I roll a 6, I accidentally the mail, then log into the mail server and edit the log files to remove all traces of the offending mail. Sometimes this takes longer than dealing with the email, but it's more fun in the long run.

      • Re:Bah (Score:5, Interesting)

        by COMON$ (806135) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:37PM (#27491265) Journal
        Everything in moderation. I am a different case for instance, i suffer from mild ADD and the caffine intake is a natural way to control my focus. When I drink caffine I get much calmer and my thoughts are less scattered. But it also means I have to be a little more deliberate in drinking...a cup every couple hours does great things. Now if it is a crazy day and lots of things are going on I might be ok, but a good cup allows me to do all that nasty paperwork...
    • Re:Bah (Score:4, Insightful)

      by citizenr (871508) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:38PM (#27491267) Homepage
      I can smoke a bag of weed every week for 3 months and then stop. ZERO withdrawal symptoms. Maybe you should change your vice to something less addictive with smaller side effects.
      • Re:Bah (Score:4, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:29PM (#27492183)

        Bullshit, caffeine has been much more thoroughly studied than marijuana has. Suggesting that because of this that you can state that the side effects are smaller is utter bullshit.

        It is definitely possible that you are correct, but without the data, it's hardly a fair statement to make. A lot of things like the link to psychosis aren't easy to study and take a long time to prove or disprove. It gets even more fuzzy when you start to consider the other things that get put into the pot and the effects of varying strengths out there.

        Sure it's possible that marijuana is safer, but you can't state that without somebody having done research on it to a similar extent.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by geekoid (135745)

          There is no hangover with marijuana , and marijuana has been studied extensively, and continues to be studied.

          I'm not taking the stance one is safer then the other, only that the poster is correct on that specific issue.

  • Ahhhhhhh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:54AM (#27490437)
    Nothing beats the feeling of the first cup of hot coffee hitting the tummy early in a cold workday.
  • by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:56AM (#27490471) Journal
    I have tried quitting before, and it just seems to kill my brain, both with pain and sluggishness. I'm not exactly sure why I tried to quit, because I enjoy coffee quite a bit. Today I've had 3 cups of coffee and a Starbucks Double Shot. I still have over half the work day to do, and will probably have a couple more cups of coffee & another double shot at the end of the day to keep me awake on the road. Tonight is date night with my wife, so we'll probably go to the local cafe and have a mocha after dinner.
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:18PM (#27490901)

      I'm not exactly sure why I tried to quit

      another double shot at the end of the day to keep me awake on the road

      Maybe you tried to quit because you are chronically sleep deprived due to your caffeine intake? I think I remember reading that caffeine can only fight off four hours of sleep deprivation, after that a different neurochemical kicks in that caffeine doesn't effect. So if you are able to sleep with this much caffeine in your system, you are at least four hours behind on sleep, every single day; even if you got eight hours last night, it doesn't make up for the four hour debt you have built up.

      Caffeine is really only useful if you only take it when you need it. Drinking so much everyday that you use up the four hours it gives you just puts you right back in the same boat as everyone else. When you quit that sleep debt hits you like a freight train, combined with the effects of withdrawal (headache and nausea) it is truly miserable. But if you wean yourself off of it slowly and catch up on your missed sleep the dull sleepy feeling will go away, and you could save the $7 a day you spend at Starbucks for something more useful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      I'm not exactly sure why I tried to quit, because I enjoy coffee quite a bit. Today I've had 3 cups of coffee and a Starbucks Double Shot.

      I love this statement. I hear it all the time.. They say the enjoy coffee a lot yet drink utter swill. ANYTHING from starbucks is raging crap. You need to get some good FRESH coffee roasted and them make it yourself. You will never be able to drink the toilet water they sell at Starbucks or other places that sell what they call coffee. Start with a simple one... a J

  • Eight Cups?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StaticEngine (135635) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:58AM (#27490521) Homepage

    Seriously dude, slow down. My wife used to drink about four Starbucks espresso drinks a day, and she noticed she was visibly trembling. Her doctors told her her heartbeat was erratic and racing, so she cut down to one or two coffee drinks a day. She's much more normal now.

    The "geek chic" lifestyle, massive amounts of caffiene and Red Bulls, pulling all nighters to punch out code, scarfing down whole pizzas and gaming until all hours, it's not really good for you. Moderate. Get some exercise. Take multivitamins and get a good nights sleep. You can actually be as productive with healthy living and one cup of coffee as you are in stimulant and sugar overload, and you won't be burning the candle at both ends.

    Plus, you really won't have to worry about withdrawal when you're stuck on an island with no WiFi, no coffee, but plenty of hot native girls.

    • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:06PM (#27490657) Journal

      Plus, you really won't have to worry about withdrawal when you're stuck on an island with no WiFi, no coffee, but plenty of hot native girls.

      Actually, in that case I'd say that you DO need to worry about withdrawal, unless you want to knock up the hot native girls or brought birth control ;)

    • Re:Eight Cups?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MikeFM (12491) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:25PM (#27491053) Homepage Journal

      I stopped using caffeine because of the shakes, mood swings, and other nasty side effects of massive amounts of caffeine but I still don't sleep. I think that is a geek trait more than a geek lifestyle choice. Who can sleep when you have visions of code running through your head. It was all I could do to keep myself in bed for three hours last night and even then I wake up about every half hour.

      • Re:Eight Cups?!? (Score:4, Informative)

        by StaticEngine (135635) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:37PM (#27491243) Homepage

        Get some exercise. Run a couple of miles every other day, or bike regularly.

        Don't code right up to the point where you go to bed. Do something different to take your mind off code for at least 30 minutes, then go to bed. Read a book. Watch a show. Clean the kitchen. Anything.

        You'll find that you're tired on a regular schedule, and your mind will be less code-racy.

        • Addicted to code. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by MikeFM (12491) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @01:06PM (#27491769) Homepage Journal

          Doesn't work. I'm addicted to code.

          What's worse is if I've been doing math. That gives me really horrible dreams of numbers trying to combine and interact in different ways. I always dream as if I can find some new better way they should work but of course I never can get a better result. Ick. At least with the code my brain actually can find better patterns while I sleep.

          What's weird is when you code without fully waking up. You can accomplish some amazing things but trying to understand the code you've written is all but impossible sometimes. When I was working more with AI I'd come up with some pretty good mental leaps and have no memory of having woke in the night much less having coded anything and trying to untangle the code to see how it worked was a total no-go because it just didn't seem like it should work at all.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by silanea (1241518)

      [...] Take multivitamins [...]

      Or just prepare your food yourself instead of warming up canned or frozen crap. It does not take a radical change of diet to live relatively healthy. Using fresh ingredients, especially fruit and vegetables, and skipping on all the various additives in industrial food goes a long way in fending off all kinds of illnesses and problems. Plus with a bit of practise it tastes way better than anything you could buy.

  • by Nick Ives (317) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:58AM (#27490525)

    I once visited a friend for a week and they didn't have any coffee. I wasn't too bothered at first as there was plenty of booze but I woke up after two days with a slight hangover (not that much booze the night before) and a pounding migraine. I had no energy and double vision, the migraine got so bad I was sick.

    I thought a coffee would help me feel a little better so I dragged myself to the store round the corner and bought some. As soon as I'd drunk a small cup of coffee my migraine started to disappear and I could see straight again.

    I was on around ten triple strength cups a day which would be about three grammes of caffeine. I've since cut down to three cups a day!

  • Been there (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dan East (318230) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @11:59AM (#27490537) Homepage Journal

    I used to consume a couple liters of caffeinated beverages daily. 4 or 5 years ago my wife and I decided to switch completely to bottled water. There weren't really any health reasons to our decision - we just wanted to try it. I remember having headaches for a few days, and feeling lethargic, but the withdrawal wasn't too bad.

    We still primarily drink bottled water, but when eating out I'll drink a tea or soft drink. The nice thing is that if I have extra work to do, or am driving on a long trip, I can drink a bottle of pop and it actually is a stimulant for me, as opposed to something my body relies on just to maintain the status quo.

    • Re:Been there (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fprintf (82740) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:24PM (#27491033) Journal

      Now that you have switched to bottled water and gotten used to it, it is time to consider non-bottled water... either out of a Brita filter or straight out of the tap. Do you live in a place where this is possible? For long drives that you mention I just use a refillable, insulated bicycling water bottle or one of those glass lined aluminum thingies. I drink straight out of the tap most of the time, or out of the water dispenser on the fridge the rest of the time. But I don't live in Malawi or any other backwoods place with unsafe water.

    • Re:Been there (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:24PM (#27491037) Journal

      You're seriously consuming a couple liters of bottled water daily? What's wrong with tap water? Hell with that kind of money, you could buy yourself a really nice filter that would pay for itself after a few months. $2 a day adds up, and bottled water is just about the dumbest thing you could spend it on.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheLink (130905)
        The tap water tastes different?

        Some people spend their spare $$ on fizzy drinks, some on coffee, I don't see anything wrong with doing something similar for water.

        I drink distilled/RO water because I prefer the taste to tap water. Clean.

        Some cheap brands or filtering/distilling equipment leave too much acetone behind, so I don't like those as well.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by geekoid (135745)

          So you prefer the taste of tap water from other areas?

          Which is pretty much all bottled water is.

          I don't care that you spend your money on that, but you should really be aware of what you are buying.

          In the US you can have your water tested for free. If it doesn't taste good, I would suggest you do that.

          There are a lot of good filtration systems for the home.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TrevorB (57780)

      I did exactly the same thing 13 years ago.. Nursing a 4L/day Cola habit and going to bed vibrating from the buzz, I decided it just wasn't healthy, that I couldn't do moderation and decided to go cold turkey.

      I still drink plenty of pop though... Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi is my friend.

  • I guess I'm lucky. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bistromath007 (1253428) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:00PM (#27490547)
    I broke my caffeine addiction by plowing into it headfirst. I used to tear through soda like a man insane. Then, completely unintentionally, I went cold turkey for about a month. Result: increased sensitivity to caffeine. I now naturally limit myself to around two cans a day because anymore than that gives me jitters, a racing pulse, and headaches.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by 1u3hr (530656)
      I had been a heavy coffee drinker for about 30 years, culminating when I worked at dotcom withe n Espresso machine in the kitchen , when I was putting away 8-10 cups of espresso a day. Then the dotcom went bust and I was unemployed (but also suffering a lot less tension). I went to one cup of filter coffee a day. And a beer at lunch and some wine at dinner. Moderate alcohol plus a little caffeine is a reasonably healthy formula. And I enjoy that one cup of coffee a lot more than the ten, with no trembling a
  • by cptnapalm (120276) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:00PM (#27490553)

    I can quit whenever I want!!!!

  • Serious Withdrawal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jbailey999 (146222) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:00PM (#27490555) Homepage

    I stopped drinking caffeine in high school when the perma-shakes set in. I was having somewhere near the equivalent of 30-40 cups over the course of a 19-20 hour day and getting about 4 hours of sleep in order to keep full time school, full time job, and a very active social life all going.

    The shakes quit after about 3 days. The headache after about 2 weeks. And somewhere about 2 years later I no longer felt permanently exhausted.

    The nice thing now is that I find I can stay awake as long as I need to as long as I don't have high-sugar foods or have any alcohol. I just catch up the next day with little or no problem. I can't imagine going back to caffeine. As a computer-geek, I think it would be hard to do it just in moderation. Everyone else around me has the perpetual can of Coke next to their mouse.

  • by downix (84795) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:01PM (#27490573) Homepage

    If caffine is a drug, my office is the largest opium den this side of the mississippi...

  • How you get hooked (Score:5, Informative)

    by Thelasko (1196535) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:02PM (#27490585) Journal
    While I was in college I became addicted to caffeine. I would wake up tired, and have a cup of coffee, later in the day I would feel worn down and drink a "soda." In the evening I would have another cup of coffee so I could study without falling asleep. This put me in a downward spiral that just kept getting worse and worse.

    I discovered that, even though I slept at night, I wouldn't get any rest. I would wake up just as tired as when I went to bed. There was a simple reason for this, that evening cup of coffee. If you want to cut back on your caffeine intake, I have one piece of advice:

    Don't drink any caffeine for at least four hours before bedtime
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by seminumerical (686406)
      Four hours is probably not enough lead time before sleep. I was taught years ago to never take caffeine after the traditional English "tea time." Tea time is around 4 or 4:30. For the last decade or more I've taken tea or coffee as I pleased up until 4 and then cut it out. Nobody in their right mind should ever drink soda/cola/pop. Forget the caffeine, it is the high fructose corn syrup, or the artificial sweeteners that cause problems. Diabetes in a bottle.
      • by seminumerical (686406) <seminumerical.gmail@com> on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:17PM (#27490863)
        p.s., a software engineer is a machine that takes caffeine as its input, and produces computer programs as its output.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:04PM (#27490609)

    I too have experienced caffeine withdrawal many times. My internist recommended that when I choose not to ingest caffeine anymore, I should start taking 2000 mg of vitamin c daily for about seven days. I have subsequently done this everytime I decide to take a hiatus from caffeine and it has worked wonders - no headaches and no nausea!

  • by pembo13 (770295) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:11PM (#27490745) Homepage

    I must be one of the few that just doesn't touch the stuff. I don't even generally like the smell. Never drank it -- coffee that is. And I only drink soda for lack of better fruit juice.

    I believe half of /. needs to check themselves into a clinic.

    Drugs are bad, m-kay?

  • by foo fighter (151863) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:14PM (#27490817) Homepage

    During most of the year I have 18-24oz of coffee every morning, and sometimes another 6-8oz or a caffeinated soda/energy drink after lunch. So about 3-6 "cups" a day.

    But during Lent I go cold turkey. Just stop on Ash Wednesday. (I give up alcohol at the same time, FWIW.)

    The only side effect I ever experience is becoming a zombie from 1p-3p every day for the second week I'm off the stuff. The first week I'm fine. The second week I'm a zombie and completely unproductive for two hours in the afternoon. Weeks three to six I'm fine, though I start earnestly looking forward to resuming my morning ritual by week six. My sleep patterns don't change. My personality doesn't change. I don't experience physical pain.

    I really recommend everyone try this. Give up something you love for six weeks. Detach. When you get back together your relationship will be healthier. You will have a new appreciation for what you gave up.

    Of course, this requires sacrifice and introspection. Good luck with that, seriously.

  • by olddoc (152678) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:45PM (#27491395)

    I am an anesthesiologist. I regularly see people who drink 6 cups a day and have to go without food or water before surgery.
    Intravenous caffeine is available as a drug and I will give it to patients in a dose of 250-500 mg. to prevent bad withdrawl headaches.
    If a heavy coffee drinker has his last coffee at 8pm and goes without until he wakes from surgery 18 hours later he will probably have a withdrawl headache.

    Interestingly, IV caffeine is also used to lower the seizure threshold in electroconvulsive therapy for depression. It promotes a longer seizure.

  • Do it gradually (Score:3, Insightful)

    by js3 (319268) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:50PM (#27491481)

    Like everything else cut back slowly. Instead of 8 go 6 for a week, and then push lower and lower, eventually you'll be down to 1-2 cups and home free. I went from drinking all kinds of pop(coke,pepsi) by downgrading to mineral water (yes it sucks) and then abandoning that for actual water. glad I got of that stuff.

  • by Andy Smith (55346) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @12:58PM (#27491631) Homepage

    I used to have a caffeine addiction from drinking lots of Coke for many years. I got over it by having a cold. For 3-4 days I couldn't stand the taste of Coke, so didn't drink any. And, already being ill, the withdrawal symptoms didn't bother me. By the time I got over the cold, I didn't need caffeine any more. Simples!

  • LAN parties (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ogive17 (691899) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @02:35PM (#27493399)
    Before my friends and I aged, with most getting married and having a kid or two by now, we use to LAN about once a month. At first we'd have a few cases of Mt. Dew in order to stay up all night... but I'd start getting headaches around 3 or 4am which I usually attributed to being tired.

    Then once I decided to just drink water all night. I was able to game til 7am and still feel pretty good. While I have no actual evidence, I think my headaches and drowsiness were caused more by becoming dehydrated than by being tired. What I learned that is I should go with water first if I'm feeling fatigued. I still enjoy a coke once or twice a week, along with a couple cups a tea once or twice a week.. but drinking 80-100oz of water a day normally keeps me feeling good and alert.
  • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Tuesday April 07, 2009 @10:17PM (#27498729)

    I notice that when I hear the word, "Addicted", I feel a slight subterranean urge to start acting.

    --That is, to put myself through the drama of addiction. The cravings and the various difficulties. I wonder how much of this is really based on chemical addiction and how much of it is based on behavioral programming.

    Coffee and tobacco are interesting. I've played with both. I wanted to try tobacco for a number of reasons and it was pretty cool. "Quitting Smoking" is this buggaboo of a thing in our society, so after I'd been smoking this pipe for several months, (and really quite enjoying it), I said, "Okay. Let's see what this Quitting Smoking thing is all about."

    I was a little disappointed. Quitting smoking is pretty easy. It takes seven days for the chemical addiction to be overcome. After that it's entirely a question of behavior and brain chemistry. (Some people are naturally attracted to tobacco because it balances out their neural chemistry. There's a reason why cigarettes are so popular among those with various imbalances. It's self-medication and it helps. A lot. --For these people, I imagine that "Quitting Smoking" is probably much more challenging.)

    It's basically like having a mild flu. It gets worse and worse until withdrawal symptoms peek somewhere between day 3 or 4, and then it smooths out. After 7 days are up, you're pretty much in the clear. The difficult part is this: Imagine having the flu, not the worst you've ever had, but pretty uncomfortable. Normally, you'd just tough it out because you have no choice. But with nicotine, you can make the symptoms vanish instantly. Hmmm! --The other part I found really entertaining was seeing the kinds of tricks my rational mind tried to play. As the symptoms progress, your mind will concoct all kinds of logical-seeming arguments for just smoking one more time. Coffee doesn't do that. --Coffee addiction is child's play. Two days, one head-ache, no real cravings to speak of, and you're back to normal. Big deal.

    So overall, the whole notion of "Addiction" seems much overblown from my perspective. (Drugs are different for different people; you can't choose your base brain chemistry defaults, --not like behavior programming, which with enough work can be altered.) --Addiction is just a bodily reaction to a substance which you can measure and take into account. Knowing that quitting is just a process with a recognizable cost, I have no fear of using coffee when appropriate, and if I ever go through a period of extreme, prolonged stress, I'd certainly consider using tobacco again. It's really a pretty amazing drug, --though it does make you smell funny and if you smoke the crappy kind, it screws up your breathing. (That was another thing I wanted to learn about. All arguments of toxic additives in big tobacco products aside, the paper in cigarettes is soaked in a weak bath of salt-peter or something akin to it. Take all the tobacco out of a cigarette and light the paper and watch what happens. It's almost like slow-motion magician's flash paper. I found that cigarettes made me cough up fleghm, but that pipe tobacco, organically grown did not. Hmm.)

    My current 'addictions' include Coffee and downloads of sci-fi TV. But with no current Doctor Who and Dollhouse heading for the axe, I guess that issue will resolve itself.

    -FL

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