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Best Way To Beat A Caffeine Addiction? 1337

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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  • multiple withdrawals (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abysmilliard ( 557352 ) <graye@livej o u r nal.com> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:37PM (#7855207) Homepage Journal
    The last time I quit caffeine (it only stuck for a few months), I killed it good by ALSO giving up cigarettes, sugar, and drinking at the same time It creates a situation where you feel so fucking miserable that really, you stop worrying about caffeine or really anything else, for that matter Anyways, caffeine exits your system after about three days. I suggest giving it up when you next have the flu, next have a really, REALLY bad bender, or next time you have a fever. The other feelings will be so painful, additional misery shouldn't bother you (much)
  • Two methods (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:37PM (#7855210)
    One... go cold turkey, take some pain reliever, and suffer for a day or two.


    Two... drink less and less each day (over a week or so) until you're not drinking any.
  • by tuxette ( 731067 ) * <tuxetteNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:40PM (#7855233) Homepage Journal
    ...and found some pretty funny stuff:

    "Caffeine is the Christian drug of preference. Drink a glass of red wine or light up a cigarette during Sunday Night Fellowship Hour, and you will be thrown out on your ear. But a two-hundred-gallon pot of black adrenal-rush will bring friendly smiles of delight. The meeting would not be the same with the absence of its nutty aroma filling the church basement. Little white Styrofoam cups floating in small clusters of heavenly conversation." link []

    Otherwise, I found this interesting: Scientists cast doubt on caffeine addiction. [bbc.co.uk]

  • by Our Man In Redmond ( 63094 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:44PM (#7855286)
    I'm curious about the other side of the coin. I do about a six-pack of Diet Coke a day, but I don't seem to show any signs of addiction if I don't get my caffeine. No headaches, no jitters, nothing. In addition, it doesn't seem to affect my ability to sleep. The only difference I can tell between the caffeinated and non-caffeinated versions is taste.

    Granted that's my major source of caffeine (I don't do coffee or tea) so in any case I don't get a lot. I wondered whether other people have seen similar effects, and how widespread this might be.
  • Drink a lot of water (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Go Aptran ( 634129 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:48PM (#7855326)
    I quit drinking coffee three weeks ago. Drinking lots of water helps cut down on the headaches... and upping your protein intake seemed to help me as well. If going to the coffee house or stand is part of your daily routine, get a steamer (steamed milk) instead of coffee. It's 1/2 to 1/3 of the price of a mocha or a breve.

    One unexpected side effect of quitting is that my contact lenses work better. Coffee had the effect of dehydrating me to the point where my contacts would dry by two in the afternoon.

    Good luck. The first few days are the worst.

  • by oneiron ( 716313 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:51PM (#7855350)
    Yea, that's how I was. Never noticed any headaches or anything else... I never had problems sleeping.

    Don't be fooled, though. The caffiene is still affecting you. You will get much better sleep if you're not hopped up on caffiene. Caffiene keeps you from reaching the lower frequencies of brainwave activity where your body recovers the best... Quit for a week, and you might notice feeling much more refreshed in the morning. I know I did. That's why I never went back.
  • by rkuris ( 541364 ) <rk@uBLUEnify.com minus berry> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:53PM (#7855370) Homepage
    Here's a paper [nih.gov] describing the positive effects of nicotine. Since cancer generally takes 20-30 years from the time you start smoking, if you're around 50 or 60 years old, the positive effects of starting to smoke outweigh the negative effects, although the studies aren't complete [umd.edu] yet.

    Some doctors have considered prescribing nicotine [washingtonpost.com] as a cure for a variety of ailments, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, attention deficit disorder and colitis.

    I'm thinking about it!

  • by EDA Wizard ( 2225 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:54PM (#7855382)
    I was drinking a pot or more of coffee each morning with a couple of cokes and shots of espresso in the afternoon. I was getting light headed and would get tired randomly throughout the day. I decided it could be the caffeine so I tried to quit cold turkey and had similar problems quiting. The headaches were the worst part for me. My solution turned out to be a new blend of beans.

    I'm a Peet's Sumatra fan so I went to my local Peet's and had them blend a 50/50 mix of decaf Sumatra with a regular Sumatra. This alone cut my consumption by half and I didn't even notice the missing caffeine.

    I also dropped the espresso in the afternoon and I drink about half the coke that I used to.

    I'm thinking about dropping to a 25% caffeine blend of Sumatra and brewing two pots a day. It still will be less caffeine than I used to drink and it gives me something to drink in the afternoon.

    Good luck. Be happy you aren't trying to quit crack. My half crack plan doesn't work as well as this.
  • Masturbate more (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ToadMan8 ( 521480 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:55PM (#7855388)
    Do you think about drinking coffee / dew when you are masturbating? I didn't think so.

    Really though, what causes the headaches (my most hated withdrawl symptom) is the capalaries in your head constricting back a bit after the caffine caused dialation and thus the headache (same w/ other headaches, just not caused by caffine).

    Sex (and thus masturbation) releases natural chemicals that can reverse some of those effects.
  • Re:Mental discipline (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Radish03 ( 248960 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @06:58PM (#7855425)
    That's not always a viable solution.

    I get migranes, and for them I take Excedrin Migrane pills. Usually I take 2, which in total contain 130 mg of caffiene (~3 cans of coke, ~9 Penguin Mints), and this makes the headache go away pretty quickly. For about a month straight during my senior year of high school, I got a migrane at almost the same time each day (give or take 20 minutes) so I would take the Excedrin and the headache would go away in about an hour. I was somewhat suspicious about this, as it happened daily, and I started to wonder if I was addicted to caffiene, so I experemented a bit. Some days I would bring something caffienated with me (like a Code Red Mountain Dew) and drink that before classes started. And wouldn't you know it, I didn't get headaches those days.

    When I did get a headache, however, I would have trouble paying attention to the class (paying more attention to the feeling that my brain was getting too large for my skull). So to go without caffiene completely wasn't a very good idea, so I started working myself off of it slowly. I got some caffienated mints, and would just eat a few of those before I knew I'd get a headache, and maybe a few more around the time I'd get a headache if I felt one coming on. And thats pretty much how I dealt with it, but I had to take it pretty slowly to ween myself from the caffiene.
  • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:02PM (#7855454) Journal
    I guess there is a certain amount of steady intake thats needed for you to be addicted to something.

    When you consistently overshoot that limit and keep exceeding it, you tend to have grow dependent on it.

    There was a time when coffee would do nothing to me. It would not affect my sleep and it would really not make me active or anything, and I used to have about one or two cups a day.

    However, I just started having more coffee just to feel the effect of it, and I found that beyond a limit I would feel hot, active, sweaty and sleepless (yeah, even if you interpreted it in any other way, Coffee does pep up your sexual drive ;-)

    So I needed a minimum amount to actually FEEL the effect of coffee. Then the intake gradually increased, and before I knew it I was having like 15 cups a day! :)

    And that dependence is a bad thing. It kills you. I've hit 30+ a day, and I would stay up for days on end without sleep and sleep it off at the end of it all. And wake up with severe headaches.

    Trust me, you're lucky the way you are! :)
  • How my mom did it (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mark_in_Brazil ( 537925 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:09PM (#7855503)
    My mother was a serious caffeine addict, but didn't know it. She did know she was consuming a lot, and decided to stop. When she stopped, she started getting really bad headaches. It didn't take her long to figure out that caffeine made the headaches go away and not taking caffeine would invite them back. Her solution was remarkable for its simplicity and ingenuity. It was true nerd solution, but not produced by a nerd (I think the nerdiness alleles passed to me by my parents were recessive, but got the chance to shine and show what they could do in me).
    Here's what Mom did...
    She was buying coffee beans and grinding them herself. She got some decaf beans. She started with almost all non-decaf beans and just a little bit of decaf, ground them together, and made her coffee normally. After that, over the course of a few weeks, she ramped up the decaf percentage (ramping down the caffeine-filled beans at the same time, of course). After those weeks were over, she was drinking almost pure decaf, and then the transition to 100% decaf (or thereabouts-- the decaffeination process is not perfect and is probably worse in whole beans than in grounds due to the relatively low surface area) was easy.
    Mom's body apparently reacted to changes in caffeine dosage like the famous frog in a pot of hot water. I've been told (usually in the context of a discussion on eroding civil liberties) about an experiment that showed that if you put a frog into a pot of really hot water, the frog feels the high temperature and just hops out. On the other hand, if you put the frog in a pot of cool water and start gently heating it, the frog does not notice the gradual temperature changes and ends up dying when the water gets hot enough. Similarly, when Mom tried to go from lots of caffeine to zero caffeine, her body freaked out, and she had to suffer through splitting headaches. On the other hand, when she gradually ramped down her caffeine dosage, the body was able to adjust to the small changes, and she was able to go to full decaf without headaches.

    BTW, I was forced to quit caffeine toward the end of the Fall quarter of my 2nd year in grad school. At the time, I was drinking multiple 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke at home every day, plus several coffees and Diet Cokes on campus. I had to drink Diet Coke; if I'd consumed the same volume of regular Coke, I would have weighed about 900 pounds. Anyway, I started having serious problems with my stomach. Basically, my entire upper digestive system would convulse like I was vomiting, but nothing would come up. The Doctor asked me if this might be stress-related, and I laughed and told him I didn't know. He understood-- I was never NOT under stress, so I had no control for comparison. Well, he suggested a really bland diet, cutting out a whole bunch of things I consumed regularly. I looked at it and thought "I can either start eating like a very old man at age 23, or I can drop the one thing I know I'm abusing." I quit caffeine cold turkey. At the time, I already had a cold. The next week was a living Hell. I had headaches that made me want to scream, plus the symptoms of the cold, plus the lovely symptoms of the effects of the caffeine on my stomach. Oh yeah... and I had my final problem sets and the preparation for finals. Ugh. But I did get over it. The cold cleared up in the normal time for a cold, and the headaches only lasted a week or so. The symptoms of the damage to my stomach, on the other hand, lingered for years. I can now drink a guarana (Brazilian soft drink made from a berry that naturally contains caffeine) or really strong coffee and not have to heave and retch. But for years, I couldn't. Beware the dangers of caffeine, everyone.

    Anyway, for anyone who doesn't HAVE to quit caffeine RIGHT NOW and can take a few weeks to try to do it right, I recommend trying my mother's approach-- ramping down the non-decaffeinated portion of your coffee from 100% to 0% gradually, over the course of a few weeks. It worked for Mom.

  • by Xyverz ( 144945 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:10PM (#7855505)
    I think the problem here is that you're not looking at the right problem. Caffeine is not so much psychologically addictive as it is physiologically addictive.

    I also seriously doubt that somebody who only drinks 3-4 cans of soda a day is going to suffer as much as somebody who drinks 6-10 cans a day.

    As much as I'd like to give up caffeine, I do like the taste. Fortunately for my pocketbook, Wal*Mart sells their brand cheap, and it's justabout as good as the real thing. I tend to go through about ... oh ... six or seven cases (24-cans per flat) of soda a month. Generally more, if you count all the soda from the fast-food restaurants.

    Yes, I'm fat. ;)

    The last time I tried going cold turkey I was physically ill for a week. The physical affects went away when I started drinking soda again.

  • Re:Easy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by c1ay ( 703047 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:12PM (#7855521) Homepage
    Do you smoke? Once I quit smoking I gradually lost my craving for coffee as well. It wasn't long before I caught myself pouring a cup of coffee and noticing later that I didn't even drink it. Prior to all this I was in exactly the same boat as you, no coffee = blinding headache. If you do smoke I used Nicorette to help me with my demon, perhaps it will help you with yours.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:32PM (#7855675)
    Asking your doctor is not free in a capitalist and/or libertarian society. Long live communism.
  • by UTRules ( 134670 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:34PM (#7855683)
    I laugh every time I see a story about caffeine not being addictive. It sure the hell is for me. The obvious conclusion to draw from all the contradictory studies about caffeine addiction is that different people react differently, kinda like how some people can some dope one weekend a month while others turn into potheads.
  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:38PM (#7855722)
    Ordinary headache remedies will reduce the severity of the headache during caffeine withdrawl. However, some of them include caffeine. Check the label.

    Also, dehydration isn't going to help anything. Make specific plans for what you are going to drink. Caffeine-free sodas work okay if that's what you're looking for. Water and juice are fine. I switched to seltzer. I lost the caffeine and the caleries at the same time. And it tastes better than the tap water.
  • My $0.025 (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:47PM (#7855774)
    FWIW, when I was in grad school doing a 2 year MBA, I was seriously addicted to caffeine. I was drinking about 6 cans of coke each day, several fountain drinks with caffeine, and having some coffee in the morning. When I'd get home at night, I had a 2l bottle of coke that I'd drink with dinner... (no I'm not a lard ass, I'm just super hyperactive). More caffeine came from candy bars, or from drinking water joe (caffeinated water).

    On the saturdays when I had class, I'd get up at 6am, and make a POT of espresso. That's 4 shots. But I'd subsitute water joe instead of plain water, so it was more like 8 shots in strength. Then I'd add in a 1oz shot of Vanilla Rocket syrup (100 mg of caffeine/oz), about 4 tablespoonfuls of sugar, and a shot of milk....

    BANG ZOOOOOOM! It kept me up and alert thru micro/macroeconomics (shit classes).

    Anyway - I did this for about 2-3 years... And never thought too much about it... One day I'm on a training class in Dallas, and didn't happen to have time for drinking soda all day. I got off the plane, and I had these shooting pains in my thighs. I physically couldn't move. Couldn't walk at all. Finally some Red Cap took pity on me and found me a wheelchair.

    I told this guy what was going on and before he asked me if I wanted a Dr., he said are you a computer guy? I said "uh yeah...", he wheeled me over to the bar, and asked for a Coke... I drank it and felt like Popeye after eating spinach...

    He said his brother had the same problem...Caffeine withdrawal is a real bitch when you've been taking it at extremely high levels...

    The whole cold turkey, headache, tough it out thing wasn't for me. So what I did was to start tracking my caffeine intake (not to the mg) by the item - say can of coke, coffee, etc. For a week, and I was astounded at the sheer quantity of that stuff I was taking in.

    Over the course of the next two months, I started reducing it by one can here, one can there, a candy bar here, a cup of coffee there... When I wanted to drink something, I drank water. Sometimes if I started to get a headache and I was at home I'd toke a bong or two...

    Finally I got it down to a decent normal level.. Something like 2-3 cans of coke a day, a glass or two of coke at night with dinner (sometimes not, sometimes just some Sprite). And coffee is one of those rare treats that I have after dinner...

    I don't have headaches, my thighs don't ache, and I'm much less irritable...

    It took about 6 months to do it, but I now realize just how bad I was. Now when I use caffeine, it actually works to perk me up, but I've also started sleeping on a more regular schedule, and having more REM sleep which means better sleep anyway (you know you had it when you realize you were dreaming and remember them).

    Just track it, then cut back gradually... When you get a headache, drink some soda... just enough to get rid of the headache... Eventually you'll be free and clear...

    Good luck...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:50PM (#7855791)
    In japan, you can (or at least you could at one stage) get actual nicotine drinks, a bit like the caffeine/guarana/catuaba energy drinks ("red bull", "shark") you get here (UK).

  • find your own level (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mihalis ( 28146 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:51PM (#7855795) Homepage

    I had a stage where I was abusing caffeine. I would drink 5 or 6 mugs of strong filter coffee during office hours, and I would also make a coffee or two before bed, especially if I'd had a drink. So I would be wrecked every morning and need more stimulation to get going.

    But after some health problems, I cut down. I don't enjoy my day as much with no coffee at all, and 1-2 coffees before mid-day seems to be tolerable, so my natural level is about 2 coffees before noon on average, with special dispensation for Friday and Saturday if I will be able to stay up as late as feels good, and then (and just as importantly) sleep in to make up.

    Maybe absolutely zero coffee would be best taking the strict view, but, you know what, we'll still die anyway.

  • cold turkey (Score:3, Interesting)

    by deviator ( 92787 ) <bdpNO@SPAMamnesia.org> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:55PM (#7855821) Homepage
    cold turkey worked for me when I was playing around with Atkins a bit - the first few days were pretty hellish, then everything was back to normal - energy levels were up consistently throughout the day.

    It stayed like that for several weeks...

    Until I took a vacation to Vegas, had a few espresso drinks and got rehooked on it. Oh well. I suspect I'll be in and out of caffeine for the rest of my life. It's just so good. :)

  • by palmtree3141 ( 515602 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @07:55PM (#7855823)
    Oddly enough, caffeine's effects on people vary greatly and has a pretty high correlation with how introverted or extroverted a person is... Extroverts respond to coffee, introverts to alcohol, generally. It's not perfect, but a very statistically significant correlation.
  • by wildjim ( 7801 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:11PM (#7855924)
    I've been trying (though perhaps not too hard) to kick/moderate what I think's a caffeine addiction to an NZ energy drink called 'V'... except that it uses the juice of Guarana berries (from South America) as its source of caffeine.
    According to a lot of various sources I've read, natural buffers and oils in the berry will slow the intake of caffeine drastically, which means a longer, slower 'high' and likewise a less drastic come-down (makes me sound like a catalogue).
    My own 5-6 year's experience(s) of drinking the stuff seems to suggest its true, which is nice -- no headaches or cravings when I'm on holiday where it can't be bought -- but I still otherwise drink at least 2 cans a day, every day, and more if I don't limit myself...

    But anyway, the point is I think it's a caffeine habit more than an addiction, except for the 'well-documented' addiction of caffeine, and the fact that some other addictions (heroine? alcohol?) have a strong psychologically-addictive factor such that being around addict friends or in places you used to get high can trigger a powerful craving...

    It seems to me that caffeine is similar in that for some people it's more psychologically than physiologically addictive... which perhaps makes it a bit more insidious as addictions go...
  • by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:17PM (#7855963)

    Yes, I know the reason. It's not a very good one though. In Canada, there is a law that caffine cannot be added to any light-coloured beverage. So Cola and Root-Beer are fine. But Mountain Dew is not. Some people started selling caffinated water, but they got shut down eventually. Should have checked up on Canadian law before they started exporting ;)

    As for WHY it is against the law, I have no idea. Maybe to prevent people from adding it to all pop to make them addictive? Or maybe no reason at all. Lawmakers love to be arbitrary.

  • by Steepe ( 114037 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:22PM (#7856002) Homepage
    Nicotine is something your body needs, and actually produces itself. Nicotine, while addictive is NOT what is bad in cigs, its the tar and chemicals and poisons and all that other nasty crap that causes cancer and every other problem related to smoking. So that study is incomplete. You can chew nicorette or wear a patch if you just want the nicotene without the bad stuff and be perfectly fine. Well, perfectly fine except for the fact that your addicted to the patch. :)

    I know this because I smoked for 24 years until I quit, and because I'm a geek and did the research. :)
  • Not a good idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hughk ( 248126 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:24PM (#7856008) Journal
    Asprin should not be taken on an empty stomach. It should really be taken after meals (or food-like drinks). Paracetamol is better, but you had better minimise any alcohol intake as some paracetamol plus any alcohol inside a day is a problem for the liver.
  • by twitter ( 104583 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:28PM (#7856027) Homepage Journal
    Most headaches are caused by dehydration. If you don't substitute something from the watter you were getting from the coffee and soft drinks, you will indeed get a headache. This is not a sign of addiction. Stick one of those two or three gallon water bottles from the grocery store in your cubicle and drink it like coffee and you won't have headaches.

    Coffee and soda are nasty stuff, but there is nothing wrong with caffeine. You will feel coffee on a good long bike ride. Don't even try to slake your thirst with carbonated corn syrup. So the toxcity of these things is demonstrated. While you might not want a Penguin mint on a bike ride, it won't hurt your stomach or make you sick. I'm not sure why people villify caffeine. A search of JAMA articles turns up nothing harmful and the AMA family medicine guide only cautions against drinking multiple pots of coffee a day without saying why.

  • by spicedhamhawg ( 718466 ) <jbyrne@texaport.org> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:30PM (#7856049)
    That's not nicotine, it's one of the B vitamins. I don't recall the exact name anymore (haven't lived in Japan for over a year) but it's not nicotine. This has been discussed on /. before, some time ago. At any rate, the name of that particular B vitamin does begin with "nicotin."

    To address the original poster's question, I'm semi-addicted to caffeine, but not to the point that I get headaches if I stop, and I often go without any caffeinated drinks from Friday afternoon until Monday morning.

    If you're really heavily stuck on caffeine, though, a slow tapering off is the best way to do it. Since part of the thing with caffeine is the act of drinking coffee (just as with cigarettes, it's not just the nicotine addiction, but the physical act of smoking), so one approach (I haven't tried it, but it seems logical) is to start cutting the caffeine level in your coffee by mixing it with decaf. Start with mostly regular and a little decaf, and gradually increase until it's eventually all decaf.

    If that's too much work, get some caffeine pills and figure out how many equal one cup of coffee. Start with a full load, then start backing down by one pill, and then another, until there's only one left. Then maybe to half a pill, or maybe just go cold turkey at that point.

    Or, take two weeks of vacation and have yourself locked in a room with no access to coffee, just an Internet connection and a toilet, and have your meals passed through the door :-)
  • by stangbat ( 690193 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:32PM (#7856055)
    I understand wanting to cut back, but if drinking a moderate amount of caffiene a day will not cause any health problems for you, why give it up completely? It's not like crack. You can have a little each day and not risk your health.

    I drink 1/2 a cup of coffee a day and a can of soda. Yes I get a headache after a day or so if I don't have any caffiene. But I figured I enjoy coffee and I enjoy the soda, so I'll live with the small amount of caffiene. I guess I also enjoy the little pick me up from the caffiene too.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:45PM (#7856116)
    Nicotine is something your body needs, and actually produces itself.

    I call bullshit. Nicotine is an alkaloid and a poison, and while there are drugs (hallucinogens even) that occur in the body, nicotine is not one of them. There is nicotinic acid (niacin or vitamin B-3) but that's a precursor [calpoly.edu] to nicotine in tobacco plants. In humans it's a precursor for molecules like NADH. Nicotine acts at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, but not at muscarinic acetylcholine receptors. Acetylcholine and nicotine have little else in common.

  • Some Alternatives (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DynaSoar ( 714234 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:50PM (#7856135) Journal
    Caffeine is one of 3 methylated xanthines, the others being theophylline and theobromine. Taking the others can serve to reduce withdrawal. Caffeine is the most addictive because it's the fastest acting of these, just as crack is the most addictive form of cocaine. You can find these chemicals in:

    1. Chocolate. It has 10% of the caffiene of coffee, but contains these other also. It also contains PEA, "an endogenous neuroamine, increases attention and activity in animals" (http://www.chocolate.org/pea.htm). PEA may be the most neglected and useful of the brain amines. Chocolate makes many people just feel better; this may be why.

    2. Guarana: An "herbal" (actually the inside bark of a tree) that contains all 3 of the chemicals, caffeine least. However, it can become a substitute addiction, and it costs more than chocolate. There was a soda that had guarana, but only as a flavoring, not a "suppliment". Some "power drinks" have guarana, but can also have ephedrine, which is not a good thing.

    3. Foods: Caffeine acts by increasing norepinepherine (NE) levels in the brain. Take it away and NE drops. This is the mechanism of addiction. Any foods high in phenylalanine or tyrosine are good dietary precursors to replace the NE the body isn't getting now that caffeine isn't forcing its production. High phenylalanine or tyrosine foods are typically your high-protein foods, meats and fishes, dairy products, whole oats and wheat. Here's a picture of the metabolic pathway involved (http://www.life-enhancement.com/article_template. asp?ID=356). You'll notice it says "(nor)adrenalin" instead of (nor)epinepherine. Same chemicals, outside or inside the blood/brain barrier. Yeah, caffeine gives you adrenalin.

    Caffeine truly is addicting. However, it is one of the weakest addictions. It's easy to break and the withdrawals are not bad. Also, it can typically be used safely by those previously addicted, without necessarily causing re-addiction.

    I am not a physician. But then I'm not prescribing anything, and what I offer as suggestions are not controlled substances. I am, however, a professional neuroscientist with a fair amount of experience in psychopharmacology, and prior to getting my doctorate, worked for several years as a licensed substance abuse counselor.

    Me, I'd go for the chocolate. Whether I need it or not.

    Q: Why is there no twelve step group for caffeine addiction?


  • Re:Easy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Cruciform ( 42896 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @08:57PM (#7856162) Homepage
    Cold turkey is easiest if you wean yourself away from the psychological triggers first.

    Change your coffee drinking habits before you stop drinking it altogether.

    With smoking, I stopped doing it indoors, whether I was at home or in a public place where it wasn't allowed anyway, it was helpful to get in a habit where I couldn't do it in my comfort zones.

    Figure out what routines you have that are typically accompanied by a cup of java and do something to modify them. Even if it means putting off reading the paper till 2 minutes before you have to leave for work and you only have time for a quick sip before you run out the door.

    Break the habits and surviving the first 72 hours will be MUCH easier.

    And if quitting doesn't work the first time, rest a week or two, and then try again. Don't give up trying and promise yourself you'll try again next year. Push yourself a bit farther each time instead.

  • by srw ( 38421 ) * on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:04PM (#7856196) Homepage
    > This mist however is something that only coffee drinkers experience and is a coffee withdrawal symptom. People who do not drink coffee do not have a mist in their heads to clear up.

    Did you read the parent post? It mentions schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, attention deficit disorder and colitis. Three of those four could definitely be described as having a "mist in their heads." As for colitis, doctors aren't sure what aspect of cigarette smoke controls it, but straight nicotine doesn't seem to have the same effect as smoking one or two cigarettes per day. Having had colitis, I can tell you that many people suffering from it would be willing to try anything -- even taking up a 2 cigs per day "habit." I eventually had to have my colon removed, so I don't have an excuse for smoking anymore. ;-)


  • by blisspix ( 463180 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:05PM (#7856201)
    I was also a Coca-Cola addict. I was drinking three cans a day which isn't a massive amount but if I skipped one, I noticed right away.

    I now drink a litre of water a day and have a couple of cups of tea, and one orange juice. I *like* having to go to the bathroom more often because it gets me out of my chair and gives my eyes a break from the computer.

    I went cold turkey and the headaches lasted about a week. I suffer migraines and sinus headaches fairly regularly anyway so it was pretty painful during that time.

    The other plus is that I am less bloated from drinking carbonated beverages.

    Now I just need to drink less beer...
  • Well... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by michrech ( 468134 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:22PM (#7856269)
    I realize I'm late to this topic, but I figured I'd post my two cents anyway... This is slashdot, afterall. =]

    Roughly a year and a half ago I was drinking anywhere from 12 to 24 12 ounce cans of MD a *day*. I never had any problems going to sleep at night but I had major problems waking up the next morning. I never drank MD for the caffeine; I actually like the taste of it. It never seemed to give me 'more energy' after I drank a can. It never helped me 'think more clearly' after a can. I just liked the stuff.

    As time went on, I was having more and more trouble waking up in the morning. I was at a point where I was waking up more tired than when I went to bed. It was getting to where I'd get up and be at work by 08:00 and home by 17:30. I'd usually fall asleep on the couch by 20:00 (after having eaten something for dinner) and wake up to my alarm the next day, still tired.

    I finally went to see a doctor by that point and found that not only did I have mono (which explains the seemingly sudden tired feelings I had right after work, no matter how much MD I would drink), but the amount of caffeine I was taking in each day was preventing me from getting the REM sleep I needed, if I ever entered REM sleep mode at all (or so my doctor told me. It's all greek to me). Anyway, I just stopped drinking anything that had caffeine. I took any of the 12 packs of MD I had back to the store and exchanged it for Caffeine Free MD. I now drink that, and many other caffeine free soads that are on the market (Pepsi's Nu Grape, Orange Slice, etc).

    I never suffered from any of the headaches I was told I would have. After only a week without caffeine, I was able to tell a difference in the morning when I woke up. I felt so much better. After all this time (about a year and a half, or so.. time flies so fast these days) I might have one or two sodas a week that have caffeine, but no more. I've never been a coffee or tea guy, so I never had to worry about either of those.

    I don't know why I didn't suffer the headaches. Nor does my doctor. I guess I was just lucky. Dunno.

    Guess I'm done rambling now.. Thanks for reading.. =]
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:23PM (#7856273)

    For those who don't smoke/drink, I've had similiar success going on the Atkins diet for a week or two. You're so miserable with the detox from the atkins diet you wont even think about caffeine (natural process where your body removes toxins from itself -- initiated by radical changes in diet).

  • by KalvinB ( 205500 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @09:32PM (#7856341) Homepage
    Oxygen is a poison. Acetone (which is one of the first in line on the "bad things in cigarettes" ads) is naturally produced in plants which we eat regularly. But people see acetone and think paint thinner. There are genuinly bad things in cigarettes. Acetone isn't really one of them. But the ones that are really bad no one recognizes.

    Natually occuring tobacco is much healthier (relativly speaking) before the cigarette manufacturers get to it.

    Like all things you need to know the limits. It's not what you eat or drink that matters but how much.

  • One quitter's story (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zerocircle ( 559005 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @11:09PM (#7856854)
    I suppose that would work, but have you ever had a caffeine-withdrawl headache?

    Yup. After pretty much living on Pepsi and then Coke for my high school and college years (though I was never a coffee drinker), I stopped cold turkey in January 1992. I had a headache -- constant, low-level, not piercing -- until that April. Then my head was fine.

    What amazed me most was that my digestion improved dramatically. After about a month, I realized with great surprise that my whole food tube worked smoother than ever; my colon had been virtually tied in a knot for years. This may seem excessively prosaic, but believe me, well-working innards are an unfathomable blessing.

    A couple of years ago, in my usual post-prandial sleepyheadedness, I decided to try a Frappuccino. BAM! I was awake! I was mentally productive! I was ON! And, very shortly, my abdomen was vaguely crampy and bound-up. I tried it again the next day: The mental effect was far less pronounced, but the digestive malaise was back in full force. That was the last experiment I needed.

    After quitting, I did have a more pronounced fuzz in my head in the morning, much harder to shake off. But I've found that an all-night decongestant removes that and lets me bounce easily out of bed in the morning -- it seems to be breathing-related, not a matter of caffeination (though the two may be linked somehow; IANAMD).

    It's hell for a while, but if you stick with it, you may find that quitting caffeine (and paying separate attention to your other problems) makes you a lot healthier in the long run. Did for me.

  • by TekDragin ( 36895 ) on Thursday January 01, 2004 @11:58PM (#7857193)
    When i stoped drinking all caffine and switched to water. I was drinking a pitcher of water atleast every day and I still had a 3 day headache. I find it hard to accept that that headache was caused by lack of hydration and not by quitting drinking all caffine containing drinks.
  • Re:cut your dosage (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikehoskins ( 177074 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @12:39AM (#7857500)
    I had a bit of a wise word from an old work colleague concerning addiction to caffeine, among other things.

    He said that if you get really sick, you can quit almost anything you're addicted to.

    So, follow the advice above by tapering off to a point that you are confortable with. Then, the next time you get really sick, decide to go cold turkey and not pick up the habit again.

    I got kidney stones, partly from drinking 6-8 Cokes a day (full of caffeine, carbonated water, and sugar -- lots of diuretics), and partly from not drinking enough water. I spent three days in the hospital for that one. After that, I really dropped off the Cokes and increased my water intake.

    The only other time I got a kidney stone was just before I finally decided to really cut back on caffeine. Fortunately, I didn't have to go to the ER with this one....

    I'll tell you that caffeine withdrawal doesn't begin to compare with kidney stones!!!

    So, scale back now, and quit the next time you get really sick....

    I now drink Coke ONCE a month.... (I never liked coffee or tea, though.) I may drink a hot chocolate once or twice a month during the fall/winter months. I occasionally eat chocolate. I drink lots of water, instead.

    I don't get kidney stones any more, either....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @01:59AM (#7858002)
    This is similar to what I went through.
    I was addicted to Dr Pepper (8 of those 16 ounce bottles daily was average for me) among other caffeine drinks. I decided to quit. So I read up on what people go through for caffeine withdrawal and saw that around 3 days was average for the headaches. I then stopped cold turkey and had headaches for 3 days. After that, I was fine. Caffeine free for nearly 20 years now.

    I think the most important part of beating the withdrawal symptoms was knowing what they would be and how long they would last AHEAD OF TIME. I didn't do anything to reduce the headaches. I just told myself "only a couple more days left" and understood it as my body's reaction to the withdrawal. Knowing that the pain will last a certain known amount of time helps reduce the pain. I'm pretty sure there was some underlying psychology at work there. (Me: "Hey brain, I'm gonna stop caffeine and I expect to have 3 days of headaches." Brain: "No problem, coming right up.")
  • by JordanH ( 75307 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @02:02AM (#7858026) Homepage Journal
    The "fact" of caffeine addiction is debated in the scientific community [bbc.co.uk]. I believe that a psychological dependence is more common than a true chemical dependence [brynmawr.edu].

    I recognize that I'm not everyone, but I kicked Coffee last week and only had mild headaches that were easily managed by hydration and NSAIDS (aspirin, acetominophin). I was a fairly heavy coffee drinker, but probably not as bad as many here, consuming 4-6 strong cups a day.

    I gave it up because I thought it was contributing to my IBS after reading an article on self-care for IBS [ohiohealth.com]. Stopping the coffee has helped a lot. I still get some caffeine in sodas, but I typically choose non-caffeinated drinks now, and the problems have greatly alleviated.

    Look, I know how condescending it can seem to be told that "it's all in your head", but if you admit the possibility that it just might be and apply a positive attitude you might find you'll have an easy time of giving up coffee. Just have some aspirin handy, get plenty of water to drink and try to increase your exercise level and you should do fine.

  • by XO ( 250276 ) <{blade.eric} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday January 02, 2004 @02:47AM (#7858220) Homepage Journal
    Those of us who are ADD - and that applies to EVERYONE that I've EVER MET - are really bored. You don't have a defective brain, a disease, or a psych issue, or whatever they call it these days. You're just too damn bored with whatever it is you're trying to pay attention to. Drugs to combat ADD are the pharmaceutical company's way of making more money.
  • Re:Water & Exercise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by XO ( 250276 ) <{blade.eric} {at} {gmail.com}> on Friday January 02, 2004 @02:56AM (#7858256) Homepage Journal
    Ahh.. yes.. Back when I first got into caffeine overdosing. lol...

    I would drink coffee for much the same reasons that people would drink alcohol - when depressed, down, sad, etc go out and drink.

    When my girlfriend at the time dumped me, I headed straight to the coffee shop. Ordered "Walk the Plank". This is 24oz of concentrated espresso, as the sign on the coffee shop wall calls it. And then the added bonus to this, was throwing some ice in it, to cool it down to a palatable temperature. 15 minutes later, and 24 oz of espresso less, in my glass.. order another one. This one made it about half an hour on my table. Then I got up to drive home. Had to stop at a friend's house halfway between the coffee shop and my home, and explain that I was so wasted on caffeine that I couldn't drive. I fell asleep, almost immediatly when my head hit the pillow on the couch. I woke up, about 5 hours later, SO WIRED I COULDN'T FREAKING BELIEVE it, and was then awake for the next 52 hours continuously.

    I try to keep my caffeine intake down to a bottle of Mt. Dew or so a day now.

  • Re:cut your dosage (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FatAlb3rt ( 533682 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @03:06AM (#7858283) Homepage
    My younger brother used to visit me in college - he wasn't 21 yet and not in college himself. One time when he came up to visit, he ended up getting really shitfaced cause he thought he was gonna 'show us college boys how to drink.' His buddy ended up driving him home the next day, as he had one of those still-puking-the-next-evening hangovers. He had left his cigarettes in my dorm room and didn't have the stomach to venture out to buy more during his recovery. The next night, he thought about buying a pack, but felt it was as good a time as any to quit smoking.

    This is probably 9 yrs ago and he still doesn't smoke.

    Might not be what you had in mind for getting 'sick', but it might be another more near-term method. :)

  • Do what I did. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by default luser ( 529332 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @03:38AM (#7858412) Journal

    For years I had migraines which I eventually attributed to caffeine withdrawl. Sure, I could stave them off by taking more, but that would burn me out during the workday, and I would get a migraine every other night anyway.

    So last July 4th weekend I decided I wasn't going to take this shit, that I had a life to live. I stopped all caffeine intake Wednesday night, and went through a painful Thursday. Friday was a continuous migraine. Saturday and Sunday were better, the funny thing is I actually got a final relapse migraine Monday night.

    But Tuesday I felt great. And I have continued feeling great for 6 months. No more headaches, not a single migraine in these last 6 months.

    The best thing about no caffeine is I don't feel burned out anymore, I have energy to work all day. You don't know how much energy you can have without caffeine because you're caught in the cycle.

    As for consumption, yes I still consume a little caffeine here and there. Chocolate and the occasional caffinated soda are fine, even decaf coffee. You just have to keep it reasonable to avoid the cycle.

    If you want out, all it takes is a little willpower. I would suggest LOTS of water and asprin as well the first week.
  • I got lucky (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mothoc ( 307671 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @03:42AM (#7858430)
    I've been addicted to Caffiene since I was a kid. Last March I got a very bad case of the Flu, so for a week, I was miserable. I spent all my time in bed or on the couch, and drank nothing but orange juice and water. Sometime during the week I developed a severe headache, but attributed it to my fever. At the end of the week, I was feeling fine. I also realized that I'd gone 6 or 7 days with no form of caffiene being introduced to my system. All of the withdrawal symptoms from not having the caffiene were swamped in with the flu, so I never noticed them, other than the headache.

    So my advice to you is this: Next time you end up sick, take the opportunity to drink nothing but water and fruit juices. After you get well, continue drinking nothing but water and fruit juices. Bingo! No more caffiene.
  • by laing ( 303349 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @04:49AM (#7858598)
    I started drinking coffee when I was 12. Twenty years ago I was a Jr. engineer writing embedded firmware. I used to head to the coffee machine 3-4 times per day. Some mornings I would look at the code I wrote the afternoon before and see obvious mistakes. I was really buzzed. I started getting headaches on weekends because I never drank coffee at home. After slowly increasing my daily dosage over time, the weekend withdrawls got worse. I decided to give it up completely (a very hard thing to do considering all the foods which contain caffeine). I went cold turkey and had cold/flu symptoms for a few days. After withdrawl, I felt weak, empty, and strange. I had become so used to the caffeine buzz that I felt strange when I was sober.

    A few weeks went by and I began to fall off the wagon. I could justify just one cup to myself. After all, everybody else does it and it's no big deal. This must be similar to alcoholisim. To make a long story short, I went "cold turkey" 3 times and each time, the withdrawl symtoms were worse. The last time I had cold sweats, vomiting, shakes, the whole works. That last time was awful enough to convince me to never do it again. I haven't had a cup of (caffeinated) coffee for 20 years. I never drink soft drinks. The thing I miss the most is iced tea.

    My advice to you is to stop cold turkey. It will be ugly and you will remember the ugliness. It may help you to stay off the stuff.

    Good Luck.
  • by BigBlockMopar ( 191202 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @04:58AM (#7858620) Homepage

    As for colitis, doctors aren't sure what aspect of cigarette smoke controls it, but straight nicotine doesn't seem to have the same effect as smoking one or two cigarettes per day. Having had colitis, I can tell you that many people suffering from it would be willing to try anything -- even taking up a 2 cigs per day "habit." I eventually had to have my colon removed, so I don't have an excuse for smoking anymore. ;-)

    Heheh... Yup. Something in cigarettes is an excellent laxative. It's probably the body detecting the hydrogen cyanide, realizing that shutdown is probably imminent, and deciding to get some of the shutdown tasks (like releasing the sphincter) done before it has to do the really time-consuming jobs like rigor mortis.

    Each puff of a cigarette must be kind of like jerking a computer around by starting a shutdown and cancelling it...

  • Re:Actually, no. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SEAL ( 88488 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @05:36AM (#7858718)
    Interestingly enough, I can tell you that caffeine is indicated in cases of exposure to Otto-fuel.

    For those not familiar, this is the fuel used to power torpedoes. When it combusts it produces its own oxygen, making it useful for underwater weapons. It is also very volatile, and exposure to the liquid or vapor is hazardous. You will get *the nastiest* headache you've ever had in your life. People have compared it to a migrane, in fact.

    The recommended course of action is to get the person into fresh air, and to drink a cup of strong coffee. The symptoms usually clear up very quickly thereafter.
  • Re:Masturbate more (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 02, 2004 @05:38AM (#7858724)
    Arousal relieves nausea and pain, but they do tend to come back sooner after climax than you are ready to get aroused again.

    Too much sex or masturbation is also painful in itself. I've never had sex more than 3 times per day or masturbated more than about 10 times, and I'm not too anxious to try to beat or even repeat the latter...
  • by Fidgety Philip ( 729556 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @06:32AM (#7858871)

    Having gone through this process, I would personally recommend just going cold turkey. Cutting down slowly is very difficult. Every time you feel tired at work (which is more than you would normally), you'll be tempted to take a hit "just this once".

    I tried cutting down by going from drinking many cups of coffee a day to one cup of coffee and as much tea as I liked. I soon found myself drinking tea almost continuously.

    Live with the headaches and the irritability. It's not like heroin withdrawal, and it will last a week or so, which is not that long, all things considered.

    Once you've kicked it, you will actually feel sharper than you do at present, because you aren't continually dehydrated, and when you do allow yourself a coffee, it will feel *really* nice.

  • by 5i ( 112354 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:05AM (#7859085)
    The catch there is: decaf <> "no caf"

    Decaffeinated products still have about 30% of the caffeine of full caffeine products. They're made by starting with regular tea/coffee, and then -removing- as much as they can.

    So, don't make the mistake of thinking that decaf coffee is the same as drinking water.. you're still on the drug..
  • by intelsucks ( 736780 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:21AM (#7859127)
    I quit caffiene cold turkey and I used to drink a two liter or 2 a day.

    What helped me quit was sheer desperation, realizing that I had to if I wanted to continue programming, I HAD to quit. I had tendenitus and the worst it ever got was that it hurt to walk because of the vibrations in my hands. At a health food store, I was told that I should quit caffiene and I was like, "Yah, like that's going to happen".

    Later I realized that I could type an hour before the pain started to get bad. After lunch, even with an hour rest, I could only type 15 minutes before pain. So what happened at lunch? A huge soda... I quit cold turkey right after.

    After years, I will drink caffiene occasionally, but if I drink too much I can start to feel a little pain. That joint stuff Glucosamine Chondroitin seems to help in those situations, but to this day I have to be careful. It's still better than some people who've had to get operations to avoid carpal tunnel.

    If your hands hurt, I highly recommend you cut caffiene cold turkey, use Glucosamine Chondroitin and read How to treat carpul tunnel naturally [amazon.com].

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @08:39AM (#7859179)
    The best way I found to get over any addiction is gradual way.

    Step 1: Record when and how much you drink/smoke/etc. over a months time.

    Step 2: Analysis the data. And make a schedule of when you do most commonly do your addiction.

    Step 3: Follow the schedule religiously for a couple of weeks so you get use to it.

    Step 4: Once you use to this schedule and it feel comfortable. Then your spread the time between each drink say 1/2 hour or 15 minutes. (Or what ever you can bare)

    Step 5: Follow this new schedule until it feel comfortable.

    Step 6: Give an extra week of the schedule

    Step 7: Repeat Step 4, 5, and 6 until you are drinking once a day

    Step 8: Now work on lowering the dosage of caffeine on that cup (Like drinking a 3/4 of a cup or making the coffee a little weaker)

    Step 9: Use the lower dosage until you feel comfortable with it.

    Step 10: Repeat step 8 and 9 until you not drinking at all. ...

    Step 11: Profit (From saved money from drinking water except for caffeine. (Optional)
  • by StormReaver ( 59959 ) on Friday January 02, 2004 @11:39AM (#7860223)
    "If that's too much work, get some caffeine pills and figure out how many equal one cup of coffee."

    The packaging on Vivarin and the generic clones all say that one pill is the equivilent to one cup of coffee.

    I agree with those who say that cold turkey is the only way to go. I was a heavy Mt. Dew drinker for years, with all the psychological ups and downs that go with it.

    I decided to just stop drinking soda just because of the high caloric content. An interesting, and I hoped at the time predictable, side effect of stopping was that the alertness ups and down levelled out after a couple weeks.

    I still like to reach for something to drink when I work, so I freeze a large bottle of water at night and take it to work in the morning. That gives me something to reach for when I'm thirsty (for all the smart-asses: yes, the ice melts during the course of the day). I don't miss soda one bit anymore.

    For a while after not drinking soda, I had used caffeine pills (one per day in the morning). The day came when I realized I had forgotten to take any for the entire week.

    I never got headaches for not drinking soda, so I wasn't addicted, but I still think just stopping cold is the best approach.

    I've seen my father, a smoker for about 40 years and a self-confessed addict, decide last Christmas that he was just going to stop smoking cold -- and succeed. He had quit gradually a dozen times before, but this time it worked.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982