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Beware the Perils of Caffeine Withdrawal

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the to-make-a-grown-man-cry dept.

Medicine 700

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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700 comments

Bah (5, Informative)

Lord Grey (463613) | about 5 years ago | (#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 (4, Insightful)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | about 5 years ago | (#27490461)

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 (4, Interesting)

SlashDotDotDot (1356809) | about 5 years ago | (#27490633)

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...

I used to intake around 500 mg/day (4, Interesting)

default luser (529332) | about 5 years ago | (#27490871)

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.

Re:Bah (5, Funny)

Fnkmaster (89084) | about 5 years ago | (#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 (1)

frosty_tsm (933163) | about 5 years ago | (#27490995)

Does the term "lightweight" really apply in this discussion, or is it just a holdover from discussions about alcohol (where body mass plays a significant role)?

I'm sure body mass plays a role in caffeine. However, I see the built up resistance playing a bigger role.

Re:Bah (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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!

Re:Bah (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#27490509)

"When they talk about drugs they donâ(TM)t talk about all of them, thatâ(TM)s the problem. They donâ(TM)t mention coffee -- the low end of the speed spectrum, I grant you. But there are coffee freaks. And theyâ(TM)re walking around, nobody worried about it or anything. Mrs. Olsen never tells you about that mild speed lift, you know, because sheâ(TM)s shooting freeze-dried Folgerâ(TM)s."

-George Carlin

Re:Bah (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490951)

donÃ(TM)t
thatÃ(TM)s
donÃ(TM)t
theyÃ(TM)re
sheÃ(TM)s
FolgerÃ(TM)s

For fucks sake...

Re:Bah (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | about 5 years ago | (#27490515)

I get a serious headache, quickly followed by nausea and a general flu-like feeling

My mate gave up caffeine for Lent a few years ago, he also suffered from really bad headaches because he used to drink 8 cups of tea a day. Never again :)

Re:Bah (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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 (5, Funny)

Samschnooks (1415697) | about 5 years ago | (#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 (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 5 years ago | (#27490579)

Yes, because of how fast and volatile it is.

You'd think "Oh, I'll skip that cup - I'm late", ... and then you tank the first 2 hours at work.

Re:Bah (5, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | about 5 years ago | (#27490631)

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 (4, Interesting)

blincoln (592401) | about 5 years ago | (#27491077)

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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490651)

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?

Written like you have had your 30 cups of coffee today, good sir!

Re:Bah (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | about 5 years ago | (#27490717)

You will have issues later in life if you continue to drink caffeine the way you are now.

Brittle bones, osteoporosis, etc.

You should cut down now.

Re:Bah (1)

dblyth (896945) | about 5 years ago | (#27490737)

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

Definitely not, and it bothers me when articles like this say things like:

They concluded the higher the caffeine intake, the more likely a patient was to suffer from severe withdrawal symptoms when denied the ingredient

Anyone living in the past decade could have told you that as common knowledge. Anyway, my experience with withdrawal was when I would only get headaches on Saturday and Sunday, but they would disappear as soon as Monday rolled around. Figuring it wasn't that I just loved work and wanted to get back into the office, my solution was to drink less coffee at work.

And to get a coffee machine for Saturday and Sunday mornings.

Re:Bah (1)

fm6 (162816) | about 5 years ago | (#27490759)

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

It's on CNN! It must be news!

Seriously, though, this is more proof that the editors need to work harder on filtering crap. Any serious consumer of caffeine (and geeks are positively solemn in this respect) knows that it's physically addictive.

Here's a really old story I might as well share. Among observant Jews, there's a condition called "Yom Kippur Syndrome". On Yom Kippur, you're supposed to fast for 24 hours to atone for your sins. Jews who do this without tapering off the caffeine first often suffer from really nasty symptoms.

Re:Bah (1)

ionymous (1216224) | about 5 years ago | (#27490815)

Wow. I feel like I'm doing something bad when I consume any more than about 2 servings of the same food a day. I mean... I'm all like "I'm hungry. An apple would be easy. No... I had that earlier. I'll have an orange instead."

I can't imagine drinking 30 to 40 cups of anything would be good for you. (Water might be the exception.)

It's always hard for me to understand... if you know you're doing something bad... why not just stop? I'm not immune to addiction, but when my self-check tells me I'm headed down that road, I just turn at the next chance I get.

It's hard to limit yourself... why not just have more and more of what you like? Controlling yourself is a bit masochistic. Why make yourself suffer?

But I guess I kind of see my wants and needs as a battle that's constantly going on in my head. I guess it makes me feel powerful... that I can will away unhealthy urges.

Of course, some urges are healthy if ya know what'om sayin... ahhh yeah.

Re:Bah (1)

Narnie (1349029) | about 5 years ago | (#27490927)

Thank you, my friend--you've just provided to me my preferred method of suicide: by caffeine overdose!!

Caffeine is a drug that should be regulated. (1)

MikeFM (12491) | about 5 years ago | (#27490931)

I got so bad that I was having serious mood swings and other negative caffeine related issues - not withdrawal but issues when fully doped - so I gave it up. It was hard for a few days but doable. I feel a lot better now although I still don't sleep.

The hardest part is finding a diet caffeine free soda at every fast food place.

I think we shouldn't be feeding caffeine to children. It should be regulated similar to alcohol or tobacco.

Re:Bah (1)

carrolljim (412715) | about 5 years ago | (#27491003)

I never drank coffee (never liked the taste or smell), but for years, I drank upwards of six 20oz bottles of diet coke daily. I accept that 120oz of soda/day makes me a caffeine lightweight by Slashdotter standards, but it still seemed like a lot.

I quit cold-turkey about 8 weeks ago on a Wednesday night as part of a "detox" diet (no caffeine, no oil, no fat, no carbs, no sugar - basicially veggies and water). Thursday morning was OK, surprisingly, but I had a headache by noontime. The headache lasted (never completely crippling, but *constant* throbbing behind my eyes) until the following Sunday morning.

I felt like I had very little energy for the whole week, which probably had more to do with my diet than the lack of caffeine. However, after a week or so, I actually felt better - I have better focus, more stamina, and actually got more shit done. I definitely feel better now (and have dropped 30 pounds, which doubtless helps). I haven't RTFA, so I don't know if the days-long headache is a typical response. YMMV, but based on my experience, I do recommend at least trying to cut back on caffeine (maybe not cold-turkey, though).

Dependency (1)

mahlerfan999 (1077021) | about 5 years ago | (#27491023)

I drink about 40 ounces of coffee made at American strength (one tablespoon per 5 ounces water). I recently tried to quit by drinking 4 ounces less per day. Besides feeling nervous it actually went fine. That is until two days after my last cup, WHAM! I got a nasty headache. I had presumed that caffeine fading would result in not being dependent, and not having to face withdrawal at the end, and I was wrong. Actually the withdrawal doesn't really start until after you're done drinking coffee. Whether you go cold turkey or gradually cut back you still have to face the withdrawal. The only time I successfully quit coffee (albeit for only a month) was when I quit cold turkey just because the worst is over quicker. I have tried about every fading scheme you could come up with going from over in a week to over in a month, but no matter how slow you take it you can't get away from the withdrawal.

Maybe this explains why... (-1, Offtopic)

Aklarr (1463653) | about 5 years ago | (#27490421)

Postal workers go postal... if they don't get their multiple cups of coffee a day they lose all sanity and control! :p

Ahhhhhhh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490437)

Nothing beats the feeling of the first cup of hot coffee hitting the tummy early in a cold workday.

I'm an addict, and I like it. (3, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | about 5 years ago | (#27490471)

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.

Re:I'm an addict, and I like it. (5, Interesting)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 5 years ago | (#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.

Eight Cups?!? (5, Insightful)

StaticEngine (135635) | about 5 years ago | (#27490521)

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.

Re:Eight Cups?!? (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27490657)

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?!? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#27490915)

What sort of cup is a "cup"? If I take out a one cup measure (8 fl. oz.) and fill it with water, and then put it in my coffee pot, it comes up to about the 2 cup level. How do they get away with artificially inflating the number of cups in a pot of coffee?

Re:Eight Cups?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490997)

You guys must be well off.

Re:Eight Cups?!? (4, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | about 5 years ago | (#27491053)

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.

My worst caffeine withdrawl (5, Interesting)

Nick Ives (317) | about 5 years ago | (#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!

Crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490529)

I'm doing two sodas a day at work.

I should quit now before it gets worse. I've gone two days without problems, so lets see how it goes.

Been there (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | about 5 years ago | (#27490537)

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 (1)

holmedog (1130941) | about 5 years ago | (#27490757)

This.

I switched to a non-cafeine diet about 3 years ago. It sucked for about 2 weeks, after that I had the same energy as before, but when I really need it I can slam an energy drink and get wired to the rim.

It also makes Jager Bombs damn fun.

Re:Been there (5, Insightful)

fprintf (82740) | about 5 years ago | (#27491033)

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 (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about 5 years ago | (#27491037)

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.

Why would anyone quit? (-1, Redundant)

forand (530402) | about 5 years ago | (#27490541)

Seriously why would anyone choose to quit? I periodically quit just to feel the pain of it but that is just self flagellation.

Re:Why would anyone quit? (2, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | about 5 years ago | (#27490703)

well, to make caffeine useful again, for example.
i dring two cups of tea a day at most (no coffee at all because i don't like the taste) and when i really need a push, a cup of coffee or gyokuro is absolutely sufficient to awake me.

Re:Why would anyone quit? (4, Informative)

Colonel Korn (1258968) | about 5 years ago | (#27490807)

well, to make caffeine useful again, for example.
i dring two cups of tea a day at most (no coffee at all because i don't like the taste) and when i really need a push, a cup of coffee or gyokuro is absolutely sufficient to awake me.

Exactly. I used to consume 6-10 cups of coffee worth of caffeine a day, and that was just to get me to normal. Now I have 0 caffeine on a typical day and I can very, very easily pull an all nighter on 1-2 cups. Also, I feel better when I wake up and go to sleep than I used to.

There's no benefit at all to caffeine addiction.

Re:Why would anyone quit? (1)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | about 5 years ago | (#27490743)

Until I saw a doctor on a morning TV show explaining that you CAN overdose on caffeine (a feat I previously thought impossible) I never considered quitting. On that same interview he explained the ratios of caffeine in regular instant / espresso / cappuccino etc After that I have resisted the urge to buy a coffee maker on the grounds that it'd probably kill me. I apply the same logic for resisting the urge to buy a deep fat fryer as I LOVE fried chip-shop-style chips which are soaked with fat. Too much of a good thing can be very dangerous to your health.

I wonder how many people have really experienced a caffeine hit, compared to how many just think they have. I've been a heavy coffee drinker for over half my life, with an average of between 20 - 25 mugs (not cups) per day depending on what I'm doing and have only ever had ONE single caffeine hit.

After a long day at college (I think I was awake all the previous day and night before) I had a mug of coffee when I got home, went to the bathroom and my eyes suddenly sprung open. I mean WIDE open, Frodo Baggins open.....for about maybe 15 seconds I was the most awake I'd been in a long time, which then wore off very quick and my eyelids drooped back to very tired. I went from being overtired but still awake to WIDE awake and back to tired in the space of about 20 seconds. This was about maybe 12 years ago so some of the details are hazy. It was either a caffeine hit, or I was temporarily possessed by something; personally I'd put money on the caffeine.

Re:Why would anyone quit? (5, Funny)

quantumghost (1052586) | about 5 years ago | (#27490845)

Seriously why would anyone choose to quit? I periodically quit just to feel the pain of it but that is just self flagellation.

I had to.

A hand tremor as a surgeon is _not_ what your patients want to see. As an aside, to break the ice with some patients I do a variation of the Gene Wilder's deputy on "Blazing Saddles"....

Pt: So how steady are your hands?

[I hold up a steady left hand]

Pt: Good, steady as a rock!

[While bringing up a flapping right hand and with a southern draw]

Me: Yeah, but this here is ma' operatin' hand.

Usually get a good chuckle from my patients, but every once in a while I get a wild-eyed-jaw-dropping-looking-for-the-nearest-fire-exit look that totally makes the joke worth it.

Re:Why would anyone quit? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490867)

Because it's bad for you?

I guess I'm lucky. (3, Interesting)

bistromath007 (1253428) | about 5 years ago | (#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:I guess I'm lucky. (1)

ImYourVirus (1443523) | about 5 years ago | (#27490913)

Man I haven't felt like that for ages. :( I'd have to have a massive rush of caffeine to get jittery. Good times... *sigh*

Re:I guess I'm lucky. (2, Interesting)

1u3hr (530656) | about 5 years ago | (#27490971)

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 after effects.

I am NOT addicted! (5, Funny)

cptnapalm (120276) | about 5 years ago | (#27490553)

I can quit whenever I want!!!!

Serious Withdrawal (5, Insightful)

jbailey999 (146222) | about 5 years ago | (#27490555)

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.

every so often (1)

gravesb (967413) | about 5 years ago | (#27490557)

I stop cold turkey for awhile, so that my tolerance isn't so high. I like getting some effect from one cup, and I can definitely build up quite a tolerance. If I can find some time where nothing critical is due, I'll go without and take tylenol to fight the symptoms. Drinking lots of water seems to help, too.

Whatdoyoumeancaffineisaddictive? (5, Funny)

downix (84795) | about 5 years ago | (#27490573)

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

Re:Whatdoyoumeancaffineisaddictive? (5, Funny)

Duradin (1261418) | about 5 years ago | (#27490825)

Caffeine addiction is the only justification for drinking office coffee.

Re:Whatdoyoumeancaffineisaddictive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490985)

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

I don't normally drink coffee at home, but I've been drinking a lot at the office ... does this mean that my workplace is making me sick?

How you get hooked (5, Informative)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#27490585)

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:How you get hooked (3, Interesting)

seminumerical (686406) | about 5 years ago | (#27490809)

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.

Re:How you get hooked (5, Insightful)

seminumerical (686406) | about 5 years ago | (#27490863)

p.s., a software engineer is a machine that takes caffeine as its input, and produces computer programs as its output.

I've quit caffeine (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490595)

I used to drink huge amounts of coffee and caffeinated sodas, but I quit both. It does take a while to go back to zero, but it's worth it. I'm more awake without caffeine and the effect of caffeine is more distinct when I do drink a coffee or soda these days.

Ah caffeine withdrawal... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#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!

Try Tylenol (Acetaminophen) for 3 days (1)

funchords (937529) | about 5 years ago | (#27490611)

In my experience, the withdrawals start on the next day and last for about 48-72 hours. The normal dose of Tylenol (Acetaminophen) solves the problems for me.

Re:Try Tylenol (Paracetamol) for 3 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490725)

For the rest of the world, this is paracetamol [wikipedia.org]. You might think I'm being picky, but when my (then) 9 months old had a fever when we were in the states, there was a lot of confusion between me and the pharmacist trying to work out what the other was talking about. If the USA could just use the standard international name it would help a lot.

Re:Try Tylenol (Paracetamol) for 3 days (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490983)

This reminds me of a guy from the UK asking me to help him import some Tylenol. He'd been in the states with his wife and it was all he could find that would help her headaches.

After much discussion, trying to figure out if she'd used something odd like a acetaminophen-codeine mix or something, it turned out that yes, he really just wanted a higher dosage of paracetamol than is commonly available where he lives (they'd been using Tylenol Extra Strength). Apparently taking more pills at once was all his wife needed to do.

Re:Try Tylenol (Acetaminophen) for 3 days (1)

robably (1044462) | about 5 years ago | (#27490795)

In my experience, the withdrawals start on the next day and last for about 48-72 hours.

Depends - the headaches go after a few days, but if you exercise much the caffeine takes a long time to work its way out of your muscles. If you lift weights the withdrawal will hit you in your arms. I'm a cyclist and quit drinking coffee last year (8 cups a day), and had two weeks of muscle cramps in my legs.

Luckily most caffeine addicts (2, Funny)

Solr_Flare (844465) | about 5 years ago | (#27491017)

Luckily most serious caffeine addicts just sit in front of their computers 24/7 and have no muscle definition what-so-ever to worry about.

Re:Try Tylenol (Acetaminophen) for 3 days (1)

soleblaze (628864) | about 5 years ago | (#27490993)

Regular Tylenol does have 15mg of caffeine. Not a lot compared to your average daily intake.. but it does help lesson the withdrawal symptoms.

80% - 90% of US addicted ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490671)

Wow.

So many addicts to such an awful tasting substance.

Addiction + Marketing can do amazing things.

8 cups, really?

You are part of study of the health effects of overconsumption of caffeine substances. The study is relatively new, and very popular.
Thanks for participating.

its why I switched (1)

Yold (473518) | about 5 years ago | (#27490673)

Green tea has helped me reduce my previously epic caffeine requirements. You can find flavored tea with less than 25 mg caffeine, which increases mental alertness without making me jittery. I also drink Tazo organic chai in the morning, because it a coffee-like taste, and it gets me moving.

Compulsive coffee drinking is a side-effect of being over-worked, mentally exhausted, and still having a mountain of work. I know I can't make it through the occasional 18+ hour work-day without it.

Start by cutting down (1)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#27490683)

I might suggest switching to tea. It has less caffeine than coffee and I find the lift much more refreshing. I started by cutting off coffee after a couple cups and switching to tea, then gradually reducing the amount of coffee. I've cut my coffee consumption in half after just a couple weeks. Beats going cold turkey.

Start with black tea. It's got more bite for coffee drinkers. Add a dash of cream if it's too bitter. Then switch to white and green teas. Trying to go from coffee to white tea is like trying to switch from German beer to American beer, too much of a transition all at once.

Always thought it was odd we don't drink more tea here in the states. Everywhere I went in Europe tea seemed to be the preferred drink. In Russia you drink it in a glass with lemon, in England with a biscuit thingy, in India with enough sugar to clog a truck motor. I've been many places where coffee wasn't available but never where I couldn't get tea. Even at Starbucks when you order tea instead of proper brewed hot tea, you get a cup of hot water and a tea bag. It seems...primitive.

Yay tea! (1)

Dr. Manhattan (29720) | about 5 years ago | (#27490943)

I save coffee for when I need a serious pick me up - I think it's been three years now. I was up to two cups of tea a day for a while there, but our last kid has been sleeping through the night for many months and I'm back down to one cup in the morning. I'm still on black tea in the morning but soon I'll be switching to green tea. Even on those low doses, I notice headaches and such if I'm not gentle on my caffeine withdrawal.

I never drank anything caffeinated at all until late in college. (Never liked soda or coffee, hadn't learned to like tea.) Then I woke up sick the day of a final exam. I got some triple-mocha-something-or-other, and felt fine all through the test. Then, on the bus ride home, I realized I wasn't turning my head to look at things, I was jerking my head around like a bird.

Withdrawl (1)

Boronx (228853) | about 5 years ago | (#27490739)

I had some bad symptoms from quitting a mere 1 pop a day habit: headaches, lethargy, depression, for about two weeks. Even now, years later, I still have frequent, intense cravings.

I guess I'm one of the few (5, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | about 5 years ago | (#27490745)

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?

Caffeine step down (1)

chrysrobyn (106763) | about 5 years ago | (#27490763)

I was once very addicted to caffeine. While I wasn't one of the guys who could keep 4 pots a day down, but I had 64oz of coffee before 3pm. I eventually figured out it was hurting my sleep -- not my ability to get to sleep, but the quality of it. Caffeine has a half-life of 7-10 hours in the system, so consider that in any plans. It takes 2 weeks for your brain to adjust to new levels of caffeine. As such, the best way to step down is to keep drinking the same amount, just the last batch made every day should have one tablespoon replaced with decaf. If only make one batch (like me), then just step it down a tablespoon at a time.

Today, I drink about 40oz of decaf a day (5mg of caffeine per 8oz of decaf coffee so around 40mg of coffee, less than an average cup of full-test), and I'm down to significantly less than a full cup of coffee at bedtime.

Cold Turkey (1)

rotide (1015173) | about 5 years ago | (#27490775)

I totally dropped caffeine about a year ago. I would drink about 5 cans of soda a day, so I wasn't a heavyweight caffeine drinker, but it was enough to cause a serious headache for the week during my withdrawals.

2-3 advil was able to subdue the pain and I can't recall feeling tired.

Now, I substitute soda with water and when I need something with flavor I hit the Hi-C and Koolaid. (Make it at home with only 1/2 the called for sugar, still tastes great!).

Now, I'm not tired at all. In the AM at work (8am), I have a hot chocolate with breakfast for a little sugar wake up and I'm good until my 11pm bedtime.

I won't say I feel healthier or better in any way, but I know that not putting all that crap into my system every day is probably doing more good than harm (comparatively). So that's the plus I keep sustaining.

I also have no care in the world to go back either. Coke tastes great! But the money I save (albeit little) and knowing I'll probably be better off in the long run just seems better than Coke.

To each his own though.

Really? REALLY??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490781)

Myself and others I know have quit caffeine no problem. Was this piece paid for by the coffee industry?

Well... since it's a drug (1)

SIR_Taco (467460) | about 5 years ago | (#27490811)

I think we should take the next logical step and create an IV form to compete with the more 'harsh' drugs out there.

Wouldn't mind sitting programming all day with a nice slow drip of caffeine...

No withdrawal for me! (4, Insightful)

foo fighter (151863) | about 5 years ago | (#27490817)

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.

Not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490841)

To sum up TFA: If you drink a lot of coffee, then don't drink any, you get a withdrawl headache.

As if anybody didn't know. Move along. Nothing to see here.

Am I the only one? (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 5 years ago | (#27490889)

Am I the only one here who doesn't take caffeine?

I don't drink coffee (it gives me a headache)
I don't drink tea (I don't like the smell. Don't tell the government, they'll probably revoke my British citizenship)
I don't drink cola (I don't like the way my teeth feel afterwards)

At work, I drink mostly water. Sometimes I drink a fruit cordial/squash.

At home, again I mostly drink water, but quite often drink fruit juice.

In a restaurant/pub/nightclub it's either cider (that should prove I'm English) or a spirit and a mixer (lemonade, juice).

You're all weak (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490905)

I mean really, you're addicts. You're just as bad as smokers. Grow a pair and give it up already, when you (finally) get over it, you'll have more energy more of the time.

want to quit? Wait until you are sick. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490919)

I used to drink 2 pots a day but quit cold turkey one week when I had a bad flu. I never noticed the withdrawal, thanks to the flu! Now I'm caffeine-free.

Caffeine causing ear aches (1)

soleblaze (628864) | about 5 years ago | (#27490945)

I moved to Colorado about 7 years ago. Since then I've had a lot of ear aches due to the altitude change. (I'm from Louisiana, pretty much sea level).. My ears would be ringing a little after the half hour drive to work... But about 8 months ago, I quit drinking caffeine for health reasons (cutting out all the caleries, the acids, etc in sodas). About a week after I stopped, my head stopped ringing when I drove..and now I can wear headphones for longer than 30 minutes without my ears feeling like they're going to start bleeding.. It's kinda weird what caffeine can do to you. I've probably drunk about 4 sodas since I quit (When I come into work exhausted and need the pick me up). If you have ear problems, you might want to try cutting back/quit drinking caffeine and see if it helps you.

You can get do it (1)

elecmahm (1194167) | about 5 years ago | (#27490955)

Caffeine works to keep us awake by competitively inhibiting the binding of Adenosine to sites in the brain. The body attempts to return to homeostasis by producing more Adenosine receptors (this is when your tolerance is built up) which means when you stop drinking caffeine, all the Adenosine in your synapses gets binded much faster. (leading to the withdrawl symptoms).

Depending on how MUCH you drink, YMMV when giving it up, but most people can get over it in a week or two of total caffeine abstinence and a handful of aspirin / headache medications to help you bear through it. You CAN get over it though. Giving it up isn't NEARLY as challenging as quitting tobacco or other addictive substances.

Best way to prevent getting hooked is to not make your caffeine intake routine; in other words, like all things, exercise moderation.

Withdrawls? Just pop some tylenol for 2 days (0, Redundant)

Solr_Flare (844465) | about 5 years ago | (#27490969)

Yes you can get a withdrawal headache and feel a little tired. But two days or so and you're golden. Never mind that all you need to do is pop a Tylenol or other headache reliever and you won't even notice that part of the withdrawal.

Even trying to put "caffeine addiction" on the same level as Nicotine and other drug addictions is insulting to those trying to quit substances with serious drug addiction and withdrawal symptoms.

It's not a habit, it's cool, I feel alive. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27490977)

__

We need caffiene patches (1)

kiick (102190) | about 5 years ago | (#27490999)

They have nicotine patches, don't they? Why isn't there a caffeine patch, for those times when you can't drink it?

I think I just gave away another million-dollar idea. oops.

Modafinil (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27491025)

And they were hyping a study about Modafinil being addictive because it affects dopamine receptors. I bet it would make an excellent OTC replacement for caffeine!

BTW Advil knocks out withdrawals for me if I want to quit!

I Just Quit Caffeine (2, Interesting)

CyberSlammer (1459173) | about 5 years ago | (#27491031)

I was drinking 4 liters of diet soda a day and quit about a month ago..the first few days were a bitch, but taking Excedrin migraine and sleeping it off over a weekend helped...drink lots of water and Propel, you'll be fine...now I'm a lot more alert and awake than I was on the caffeine...I still have the occasional Starbuck's and cup of soda, but nothing like what I was doing before I quit.

You'll be a lot better off and your body will appreciate it.

No coffee for me (1)

kimmp (1519597) | about 5 years ago | (#27491083)

I'm not a coffee person. I like my tea (I'm American) and when I need to get things done on little sleep (which is often, full-time job + full-time courseload + part-time work study + 3 year old mini-geek + side project = very little sleep) I tend to rely on Amp or at least a bit of Mountain Dew. Or I rely on various caffeinated Slurpees from the 7 Eleven that is two minutes from my apartment, which are my person favorite as a "starter" caffeine drink.

Two Weeks (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | about 5 years ago | (#27491089)

I don't drink caffeine due to a kidney disease I have. I watch my blood pressure so I don't drink any caffeine.

Once you don't have caffeine for two weeks, your tolerance is basically zero. You can have a little bit of caffeine and it will have a large effect.

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