If I can give up coffee, anyone can, including you! I was totally addicted. I LOVED coffee and the caffeine rush! I drank coffee all day, every day. I depended on it for motivation, creativity, and problem-solving.
Without coffee, I became depressed, lethargic, and anxious. I would go into a panic if I couldn’t get some coffee before an important event like giving a speech, taking an exam, or leading a meeting.
It took countless attempts before I figured out how to give up coffee. Between each try, I learned a little more about how to quit coffee. Eventually, the information and experience accumulated into a formula that proved successful. Armed with this formula I found it rather easy to give up coffee. Here’s how I did it.
Caffeine addiction knowledge
The first step is to learn about what you are dealing with in terms of caffeine’s addictive properties and the likely withdrawal symptoms.
Caffeine is a drug. The human body actually becomes physically addicted to it. That’s why you feel good when you get your first cup of coffee in the morning and it’s why you feel bad when you try to give it up. The pleasure that you feel when you drink your first cup comes from satisfying the caffeine cravings produced by your body’s initial withdrawal symptoms. This happens because your body wasn’t getting its periodic fix of caffeine for 6-8 hours while you slept.
The pleasures you feel are not the fulfillment of those comforting storylines that you see in coffee commercials and print ads. The pleasure is your body’s relief response to getting the caffeine that it needs to function normally!
Withdrawal symptoms from caffeine include anxiety, nausea, lethargy, muscle tension, headache, constipation, and inability to think clearly. The inability to think clearly is also one of the disadvantages of drinking too much coffee.
There is a host of emotional addictions to the caffeine high as well. Some of them include the belief that with caffeine stimulation you will perform better and have more confidence. The rush certainly provides that illusion, but the rush is brief and when it’s gone you get the opposite effect.
In order to give up coffee successfully, it’s important to understand what your body and emotions will go through for a few days during withdrawal. The intensity of the withdrawal depends on many factors including your daily intake amount, how long you’ve been drinking coffee, and your age.
As with most drugs, physical withdrawal lasts about 3-7 days. Symptoms are the most intense at the beginning and then they taper off significantly. Psychological withdrawal lasts about 30-90 days. Symptoms are the most intense during the first 21 days and then they are sporadic and progressively easier to handle in the weeks and months that follow. The durations vary depending on the individual.
If you understand ahead of time how you’re going to feel for a few days after you give up coffee, you can prepare yourself emotionally and arrange your schedule if need be. This does not mean that you should focus on the withdrawal symptoms, however. In fact, you should focus on anything else but the subject of coffee. Selecting issues and activities to concentrate on during this period is a crucial part of preparation.
Disadvantages and advantages to giving up coffee
If you consider just the withdrawal symptoms, it would be hard to see any advantages to drinking coffee. I know that there are proponents who talk about the so-called benefits of coffee. I wonder who’s distributing this information… the coffee companies?
Although coffee is not anywhere near as bad for you as cigarettes, I find it interesting how the brainwashing methods are similar. After you’ve seen or listened to thousands of coffee commercials over dozens of years you can understand how you associate the good life and pleasure with drinking coffee. These are the same tactics cigarette companies used during the early to mid-20th century to get millions of people to use their products.
Coffee and cigarettes are two of the greatest products ever conceived. Why? Because they are both highly addictive! Your eventual physical need (withdrawal symptoms) forces you to buy their product on a continual basis. How much different is that from a person on the street corner who sells crack cocaine or methamphetamine? Is this discussion making you angry? I hope so. Use it as one of your motivations to give up coffee, and cigarettes too!
I was motivated to give up coffee because of the physical and emotional seesaw I experienced throughout the day and the difficulty I had sleeping at night. The reason that it’s difficult to sleep at night — assuming you don’t drink coffee too late in the evening — is that your body is in the beginning stages of withdrawal.
I grew tired of relying on a drug for my motivation, enthusiasm, and energy. Coffee’s promise of providing energy is a crock! You’ll find out when you quit that it actually takes it away!
I also wanted to give up coffee to improve my appearance. Coffee stained my teeth and made my face look drawn and tired.
My number one reason for giving up coffee was my determination not to be controlled by addiction or brainwashing to use a drug that did me no good.
Come up with your own list of reasons for giving up coffee. This doesn’t have to be a complicated task. Just jot down the most powerful reasons for you to give up coffee. Keep this list handy, as you may need to refer to it during the first few days after quitting.
Gradual reduction, then replace with green tea
You can give up coffee cold turkey, but why put yourself through that unless you need an unpleasant experience to refer to later to bolster your resolve.
To ease yourself off caffeine, I would recommend that you do it in these two steps.
- Gradually reduce the amount of coffee you drink based on a predetermined schedule. Let’s say you normally drink 5 cups of coffee a day. Over a one-week period, cut out one cup per day so that by the sixth day you’re at zero.
- On your first day without coffee, which would be the sixth if you follow step 1, replace the habit and preparation ritual with green or non-caffeinated herbal tea. Green tea has the lowest amount of caffeine of most teas, but don’t expect any similar coffee rush – it will be very mild.
Your best choice is non-caffeinated herbal tea. But if you need a little transitional help, as I did, drink green tea for a few days and then non-caffeinated herbal tea for a few days after that.
Sneak away from the addiction and habit
During the first couple of weeks, and especially during the first few days, you may get messages from your physical and psychological body that screams, “I want some caffeine!” What it wants is the rush! It wants the pleasure of satisfying the cravings! Your mind may come up with some amazing excuses, justifications, and reasons for giving in. The key is to recognize them for what they are — caffeine cravings – and ignore them.
The way I dealt with this was to postpone consideration of whether I was going to give in or even give up coffee forever. The idea of forever was a difficult concept to get my head around at that point. I would tell myself, “I’ll think about that later on or tomorrow. I have other issues to deal with right now.”
Looking back on how I played this game with myself several months later, I defined it as sneaking away from the addiction and habit. Trying to deal with it intellectually when you are in the middle of physical and psychological withdrawal is a game that you can easily lose. If you consider how your brain is in an upheaval and misfiring during withdrawal, you can understand why you cannot trust it for a few days. All it knows is that it needs and wants caffeine to function normally and it will tell you anything to get it. When a person quits smoking cigarettes, they go through the same thing but it is much more intense. I know what it’s like, I quit smoking as well.
The stronger the reasons you identify for giving up coffee, the lesser the impact that the physical and psychological withdrawal will have on you if any. My reasons as discussed above were a diverse mix fueled by some strong feelings of being fed up and angry.
I was tired of being controlled by caffeine. I was tired of the negative impact caffeine was having on my body and emotions. I was tired of the stains coffee was putting on my teeth. And I was tired of being a victim of the brainwashing by the coffee companies.
I do not believe that coffee companies are evil enterprises selling a product that maims and kills like the cigarette companies do. But I can not see any benefits to putting their product into my body. Knowing how much better I feel physically and emotionally without it is certainly solid evidence to me. When you give up coffee, I think you’ll feel the same.
Update – I can not help but wonder who is paying for all these studies that suggest that coffee is good for your health. Could it be the coffee industry is paying? It’s a fairly well-known fact that pharmaceutical companies pay for most, if not all, of the university studies done on their drugs. 😕