Ever Try to Quit Caffeine? It’s a Rough Process

  • January 7, 2010 by Corbett Barr

I’m 6 days into trying to kick my coffee habit and it’s kicking my ass. I wasn’t sure I would even get a blog post written today. Trouble concentrating would be putting it lightly. I’ve literally spent the past few days just staring at my monitor. Any real work has basically been out of the question.

Luckily I decided to stop drinking coffee on New Year’s Day. That gave me a long weekend to deal with the first three days of hell. I think I slept about 16 hours a day for those first three days. I’m down to about 11 hours a day now.

This isn’t the first time I’ve stopped drinking caffeine. About six years ago I wanted to see if I could give it up for a while. I was able to stop, but I clearly remember about 10 days of feeling like crap. Headaches, fatigue, sleepiness and a general disinterest in doing anything all added up to feeling miserable. I literally feel asleep at my desk that first time.

Why did I start back up again? I have no idea. I do remember when though. I had been off caffeine for a few months when I started thinking about the rich flavor of coffee again. Somehow I talked myself into having just a cup to see what it was like again.

That first cup after not being addicted for a while was really amazing. I felt like I could do anything and felt better about myself, too. It’s no wonder that I started up again. Boosted productivity is such a lure for me. Now here I am again trying to give it up.

Have you ever tried to kick caffeine?

I read recently that 90% of Americans drink some form of caffeine every day. Most people I know drink coffee, tea or soda regularly.

It’s clear that caffeine affects people in a lot of different ways. I seem to become really addicted to it, but my wife can go days without coffee and not really notice. Why is that?

I’ve read a lot of stories about people struggling with stopping the habit, but I haven’t met too many personally. Maybe it’s just that not that many people ever try to quit. Or, it could be that most other people have an easier time with it than I do.

Why quit? What are the pros and cons of caffeine or coffee?

I’m laying off coffee this time around because it’s been giving me heartburn for a while now. I tried adding creamer to the coffee (I used to prefer it black), but that didn’t seem to stop the burn. Over the counter heartburn medications definitely help, but I don’t want to cover up symptoms with a medication when I think I can stop the condition by changing my diet.

Now, I know that coffee and caffeine are really two different questions. For me, since coffee is so strong caffeine-wise, I have a harder time quitting by switching to tea than by going cold turkey. Once I get comfortable with not drinking coffee, I may start drinking green tea or something just to enjoy a little caffeine and a warm beverage in the morning.

Aside from heartburn, why would someone want to quit caffeine or coffee? Are they good or bad for you? I’ve read a lot of studies on both caffeine and coffee, and there seem to be both benefits and consequences to both.

Coffee is sometimes hailed as a miracle drug. It’s generally recognized as safe by the FDA. Various scientific studies have shown that it may stave off diabetes, Parkinson’s and even cancer. Some of the benefits of drinking coffee are related to its high antioxidant content; others are related to its high caffeine content. Either way, it’s widely accepted that coffee does more good than harm for its drinkers.

Some consequences to being addicted to coffee include the diuretic effect (being dehydrated and having to urinate more often) and the post-consumption crash that you feel when the caffeine wears off. It can also impact your sleep patterns, and cause heart palpitations at higher doses. If you get your caffeine from other sources like soda, there are of course a whole other set of issues associated with drinking lots of sugar or sugar substitutes.

For the most part, choosing whether to drink coffee/caffeine seems to be a personal decision. If you like drinking it and don’t experience any negative reactions, there probably aren’t many reasons you should quit.

If you do try to quit, hopefully you won’t experience such severe withdrawal symptoms as I do. Seriously, I would probably rather have a serious cold than feel like I’ve been feeling for the past week.

Whew! I’m so happy I actually got something (this blog post) accomplished today. Now it’s time for a little nap.

Are you a slave to caffeine? Have you every tried to quit? If so, why? Let us know in the comments!

photo by illuminaut

Written by . Corbett is cofounder of Fizzle, a place for creative entrepreneurs, writers, makers, coders and artists, all working to support themselves doing what they love independently on the Internet. Follow Corbett on on Twitter.

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oresi January 7, 2010 at 1:05 am

i so understand you . i try to quit energy drink its the same addictive stuff

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:26 am

I’ll bet quitting energy drinks is even more difficult since they have more addictive contents than just caffeine.

Rhia January 7, 2010 at 1:12 am

I was raised by my father starting when I was about 12. Up until then, my mother’s way of teaching me good habits was to give me a back of potato chips and tell me to go watch TV. When I went to live with my father, we ate a little better, but we always had a 24 pack of coca-cola in the fridge. We’d drink it with every meal, even breakfast… sometimes between meals. Now I am 22 and am addicted to coca-cola. I can’t stand the taste of coffee and the combination of sugar and caffeine leaves me almost helpless to stop. I have stopped once before… for about a month… then I took a sip.

I attribute a lot of my weight problems to drinking coca-cola. I also have irregular sleep patterns. What probably bothers me the most is when I”m out with friends and start having withdrawal symptoms a few hours after my last dose of caffeine. Headaches, irritability, and tiredness all effect my relationship with my friends. I understand your struggle as I am trying to quite without going cold turkey. It’s too hard for me to do that right now as I need to concentrate on my school work. Thank you for your post. It was very informative.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:27 am

I hear the combination of sugar and caffeine creates a potent addiction. Have you tried scaling back your intake over time (as another commenter suggests below)? Going cold turkey isn’t for everyone.

John Bardos - JetSetCitizen January 7, 2010 at 1:35 am

Quit coffee? That is like quitting breathing to me. :-)

I probably drink a little too much java, but it is just so damn good. It is not only the coffee, I love being in cafes. It would be hard to switch to juices or some other alternative.

Please keep us informed of your progress. Maybe I should quit too?

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:29 am

I hear you, John. Drinking coffee has been like breathing for me too. If you don’t have any problems with it, maybe there’s no reason to quit. I’m curious though about how well I will concentrate and how productive I’ll be after a month or so without it. Someone else also commented on feeling more proactive and less reactive after quitting coffee. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Anthony Feint January 7, 2010 at 2:29 am

I’ve sometimes stopped drinking coffee for a week or so at a time – not for any particular reason. It really doesn’t affect me that much.

I love the taste of coffee – even if there are some slight disadvantages (which I don’t believe are – even the the diuretic claim is myth as the small amount of fluid loss caused by the stimulant is negligible compared to the amount of fluid you take in) I wouldn’t stop drinking it.

Of course if it causes health problems (like heartburn) thats a different story.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

I love the taste, too. Especially the really strong, rich stuff like Peet’s or the local gourmet roasters here in SF.

Patxi January 7, 2010 at 3:11 am

I quitted 6 years ago a strong coffee habit. Now I only get whatever caffeine is on chocolate or desserts. Here are my highlights:

* Tough, but it gets better over time.
* Headaches for 2 weeks, then gone.
* Craving lasted for a couple of months.

* Better focusing (after a while).
* Less jitters (probably relates to the prior point.
* I work more on things that matter, not reacting to the environment / alerts / others’ requests. Coffee makes me a reactive person, without it I become more proactive.
* Less muscular tension. People with lower back pain report benefits in this sense.
* Better sleeping. (Benefit #1)

* I miss taking coffee breaks. Now they are snack breaks or take-a-walk breaks :)

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:32 am

I have noticed much more intense sleep so far. Although I never really have sleep problems from caffeine unless I drink it after dinner.

It’s really interesting what you said about feeling more proactive. I would love for that to be an effect, but I’ll have to wait and see.

Shane February 5, 2012 at 8:50 am

After two months caffeine-free, it has proven life-changing. I have a new sense of physical and mental well-being.

I share the same results as Patxi, especially being more proactive…in fact, much more proactive. Notably, the comment of working on things that matter rings true: no more knee-jerking reactive behaviors.

Additionally, I sleep all night long, every night. Waking up to a new day is joyful from the start.

The first two weeks were hell, the several following weeks were progressively better, and now I feel consistently focused and energetic.

Sean January 7, 2010 at 3:31 am

I deal with the exact same thing you do Corbett…some heavy withdrawal issues, mood swings etc…I have given it up for months at a time but always find myself slowly getting back into coffee probably because like John above, I enjoy the whole cafe’ experience, the smell of coffee…all of it.

I think there clearly are more disadvantages to consuming coffee than advantages but it varies with the individual for sure–like all things. I have a friend that if she has a cup of coffee her heart begin to race, her face flushes and she is clearly “hopped up on the bean”. I think most of us felt that way on our initial cup but we grow tolerant of higher levels as we daily consumed it…

The Dis-Information Machine is constantly telling us conflicting news so it is hard to know what is a fact with our food these days. However I still think good ole’ common sense is reliable and if you find you are clearly dealing with withdrawal symptoms like headaches, upset stomach, apathy etc then that substance had a pretty strong hold on you. If you consider the only other substances that have that type of effect on a person when they quit, you end up with all the usual addictive substances taken in excess like alcohol, nicotine and drugs….I don’t think anyone would argue that those substances are good for you.

Maybe the decision to quit coffee for some people like us is more about allowing a substance that much control of you or not…personally I now restrict my coffee to weekends only and that moderation effort seemed to make the difference for me.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:33 am

Weekends only would be tough for me. I can’t imagine drinking coffee only a couple times a week without getting hooked on it again. Thanks for the tips.

Mark Cancellieri January 7, 2010 at 3:47 am


I know what you are going through. I have the same problems with caffeine. I have quit many times in my life. I have tried quitting cold turkey, and I will never do it again. The method that I like best is to reduce my caffeine gradually and methodically. I set a standard (e.g. 3 cups of coffee a day), follow it for a week or two, then decrease it (e.g. 2 cups of coffee a day), follow it for a week or two, etc.

I find that it helps tremendously to schedule the specific time that you are going to drink the coffee. It makes it easier to hold off on coffee if you exactly when you will be getting your next fix. This way you gain greater control over your coffee usage. Your body begins to adapt to the reduced caffeine, making it easier to continue. The best part is no headaches.

Good luck kicking the caffeine habit.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:34 am

The stepped reduction method you describe is what most people recommend. I’ve tried that before and didn’t get very far for some reason.

Henri @ Wake Up Cloud January 7, 2010 at 4:41 am

This post came at the perfect time. I have just been thinking about starting a coffee addiction going, but I think I’ll refrain. I’ve never had trouble quitting anything, so the addiction part is probably not a problem for me.

I am a huge fan of tea and green tea, but I don’t drink nearly enough to be affected (caffeine wise). Look on the bright side, at least you’re training your discipline muscle . . . and it’s fun to stare!

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:36 am

Experiencing discipline is definitely a good side-effect of quitting.

Rasheed Hooda January 7, 2010 at 6:33 am


Coffee is acidic in our system, so I can understand the heartburn, I’ve had that problem on occasion as well. If you haven’t had heartburn prolems before from drinking coffee, ou might want to check and see if you have made other changes to our diet, and is there something acidic in there?

If your diet change is providing more acidity, then coffee will seem to add to it since you drink it more frequently. Just a thought.

Oh, BTW, I have stopped drinking coffee a couple of weeks ago. I don’t drink sodas at all, haven’t in several years, but I do drink tea, Indian style, with milk, and cooked over a stove.


Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:37 am

Hi Rasheed. You stopped drinking coffee a few weeks ago? How did that go? Was there a reason you decided to quit?

Stephen January 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

I used to drink massive amounts of coffee, then I got deathly ill for about a month and stopped drinking coffee (or anything else for that matter, GERD). Now I may have a cup with my wife in the morning, or not. Switched to black tea in the afternoon for refreshing my focus.

Loewen Behold January 7, 2010 at 8:29 am

There have been reports suggesting that caffiene intake affects bone density adversley; http://chocolate.org/calcium.html however this has been refuted as well. http://www.prevention.com/health/health/health-concerns/bone-density-and-caffeine/article/054072e50d803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/ Just to further muddy the waters, I found an article that suggest tea consumption may actually improve bone health. http://www.prevention.com/health/health/health-concerns/bone-density-and-caffeine/article/054072e50d803110VgnVCM10000013281eac____/
I successfully stopped drinking coffee many years ago, but must now admit to being a pretty addicted tea tottler. I’ve heard, but can’t remember where, that the caffience in tea is not supposed to be as bad as the caffiene in tea, but am not so sure why. I can attest to not having withdrawl symptoms when I go without, and I can feel within seconds if when ordering a decaf latte I am inadvertly given the leaded version, and it doesn’t feel good at all.

Perhaps you might like tea, but maybe that’s switching one addiction for another. Perhaps I just talked myself in a circle and didn’t help so much. :)

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:38 am

It’s funny how every study seems to have a conflicting study that says the opposite, isn’t it? It’s almost like you can make statistics say anything you want ;)

Jim Ireland January 7, 2010 at 8:43 am

I have found that as I get older (I’m 64) the affects of caffeine become more pronounced. I can drink coffee on an empty stomach and become very agitated and irritable.

I have practiced meditation for several years and have found that when I have stopped taking caffeine the meditation is easier and more effective.

It all depends on the individual. It is similar to the issue of drinking wine or alcohol. Supposedly a drink a day is good for you. Well if you have a drinking problem, it is not.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:40 am

I’ve heard that as you get older, caffeine affects you more. I’ve even noticed that over the past ten years or so. I used to be able to drink caffeine in the evenings with no problem, but now it seems to keep me awake or cause me to wake up in the middle of the night.

Raam Dev January 7, 2010 at 9:18 am

I went cold-turkey on black coffee last year, February 17th, 2009 to be exact, and I haven’t had a single cup of black coffee since:


I went through all the same withdrawal symptoms as you. For me, my reason for quitting was two-fold. I didn’t like that something like caffeine could have such a control over my life. It seemed ridiculous to me that I had to spend money every day to drink a substance to make me function properly. My second reason was for health: I don’t care what the scientists say. Anything that has such an effect on my life cannot be good for me long-term.

Sadly, I have started to think of my coffee-addiction problem the same way recovering alcoholics think about alcohol: Even a little bit is dangerous. I say sadly because I absolutely love coffee. It’s sad to think I may never again be able to drink it without becoming addicted.

We all have our nemesis. For some it’s alcohol. For me, it appears to be black coffee.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:44 am

Hi Raam, thanks for the link. I’ve noticed the same pattern as you wrote about, where I was on a constant cycle that increased from 1 to 3+ cups of coffee over a multi-month period and back again. Congrats on quitting and not going back.

Bob Bessette January 7, 2010 at 9:36 am

I feel your pain. One of my New Year’s resolutions is to limit my coffee intake to one cup per day. I was getting a little bit carried away with having 3-4 cups of coffee each day because it is free at my work (but crappy). If I’m going to have one cup per day I’m making it a point to go to a Starbucks or somewhere that has a great cup of coffee. I tend to get a good productivity kick out of coffee but my wife, like yours, can go without it and she says she doesn’t really feel any kick from it.
I take Prilosec to control my heartburn. I didn’t want to remove my coffee addiction entirely because without the Prilosec I would feel the heartburn pretty badly as well. I also tend to stop cold turkey for a day or two every now and then just to convince myself that I can.
Good luck beating your nemesis. Now don’t make a mistake and read any coffee blogs.. :-)

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:46 am

Cheers, Bob. Good luck on cutting back. Beware that coffee from somewhere like Starbucks probably has at least double the caffeine of your crappy work coffee.

Colin Wright January 7, 2010 at 9:36 am

I quit caffeine back in high school for about a year, then started drinking green tea again.

It helped to quit caffeine, soda and fast food all at once because it led me to radically change my diet, which helps with the habits that have formed around caffeine (drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, for example).

Keep it up! The shakes and headaches go away at about the 2 week mark (at least they did for me!).

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:47 am

Do you feel like you’re addicted to green tea? Can you quit drinking it with no side effects or withdrawal symptoms?

Andrew MacPherson January 7, 2010 at 9:39 am

Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I do not like the potential of anything shattering my fragile world-view built inside protective delusions that coffee enhances cognitive abilities at least as well as Adderall&@reg;.

Things to help me rationalize away my concerns:
<a href="http://www.nctimes.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/article_df147532-cee3-5abe-91b2-9014a83a1af1.html"Diuretic effect of caffeine mostly a myth

Myth #9: Coffee is a potent diuretic.

Luckily, I’m in the camp of people who can drink gallons of coffee for weeks on end (which is my goal today) and suffer no apparent side-effects when I stop… Notice I did not say “quit”.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:51 am

Sorry to impinge on your world view, Andrew. Get back to your daily gallon, you lucky bastard.

Betsy Talbot January 7, 2010 at 11:09 am

Corbett, I feel your pain! I quit drinking caffeine during a month-long cleanse in October of 2008. The first few days were tough, but eventually I got over it. Over time, though, I started feeling a little cocky about it. I’d have a Diet Coke when I was out for lunch on occasion, and then it morphed into drinking caffeinated coffee on weekends, and by the Christmas holidays 2009 I was back to 2 cups of coffee a day plus a Diet Coke.

My blood pressure is affected by caffeine and so is my sleep, so this is something I need to kick…again. I’m still struggling with it (and drinking decaf right now), but I’m coming out the other side. Tomorrow’s blog post is all about my second round of quitting caffeine (“I just can’t quit you!” should be the title), so we are definitely on the same page.

Good luck with your withdrawal. Winston Churchill said that when you’re in hell, it’s best to keep walking.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Ugh, that’s what has happened to me as well. Getting cocky about it is a slippery slope. People like you and me probably just have to be all-or-nothing when it comes to caffeine. At least it’s not alcohol or something else that is especially harmful.

Great Churchill quote, by the way.

Ben Walton January 7, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Hi Corbett!

I’ve just finished a years break from Caffine based drinks as I found I was drinking 2-3 coffees plus a coke or two just to get through the day. I was not sleeping well, and grumpy all the time so I made it my 2009 New Years resolution to quit for a year. I also had the added incentive of my wife telling me 2 weeks in “You’ll never do it…” which lit a fire under me to make it happen :D .

I think the reasons I made it were:

1) I had something else to do during the first couple of weeks. We went camping at the beach, so no easy access to good coffee and plenty of other activities to focus on.
2) I used all the negative feedback about not making it as a clear reason why I HAD to make it through. I was surprised that so many people doubted I could do it.
3) I found a replacement drink for social occations. Bit like smoking, when everyone else is sitting around chatting with a hot drink, you need one too.

Some of the pros:

1) My dentist commented that I must have changed something major in my life. He said my teeth were in the best shape ever.
2) I got good sleep for the first few months. We had a baby late last year, however, I felt much better at tackling the late night calls than with our first child.
3) More $$$ since I wasn’t buying several coffees a day.
4) No more headaches on the weekend, which used to be a weekly occurance.

Since its a new year, I had my first coffee on the 5th, and to be honest it tasted like crap. While I will enjoy an ice-cold coke from time to time, I don’t think I’m going to go back to drinking coffee again.

My advice? Remember that you only have to get through the first few weeks one day at a time, and eventually it’s the norm rather than the exception. So many people stop, then start a few weeks/months later when they get under pressure. If you find yourself in a stressful situation, go make a herbal tea, take a short break, then get back into it – the coffee was an opportunity to get away from the situation, not the cure. Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you do drink something caffine based. It’s hard to go out and refuse to accept a Vodka and Red Bull from a mate, so enjoy it, and carry on with life! :)

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Awesome comment, Ben. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m surprised that your first cup after a year tasted like crap. I wonder what changed for you?

Carl January 7, 2010 at 1:05 pm

Hey Corbett,

I went off of caffeine, particularly coffee drinks, cold turkey this past summer. I think primarily it was a mental addiction more so than a physical one. I love café culture and really enjoy the taste and feel of coffee and other hot beverages, so going off of that was hard.

I actually didn’t find it that difficult at all, I had a great person supporting me and because she didn’t drink coffee, it was even less reason to drink it myself.

Biggest things that helped me: drink a lot of water, always have a snack like trail mix or almonds with you.

Those two factors kept me from getting any withdrawal symptoms – no headaches, shakes, etc. I barely even noticed I wasn’t drinking coffee unless I was around a serious coffee drinker.

I’ve added coffee and espresso back into my life, after a 3 month hiatus from it, mostly because I enjoy the taste of it. I don’t crave it the same way I used to and now I appreciate it that much more.

Plus in moderation I notice absolutely no difference in my energy levels.

Doug January 7, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I think the switch to tea (especially green) is a good way to go. It still has some caffeine but also has a calming effect. I get cracked out if I drink a cup of coffee, but I drink about 10-15 cups of green a day. I’ve had many days without and no withdrawal symptoms.

Also, if your symptoms are severe with any withdrawal, go get acupuncture. It’s a great way to manage both cravings and bad side effects.

Good luck!

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Wow, 10-15 cups a day? Are you going for a record or something? I tried switching from coffee to green tea a couple of times before, but really missed the caffeine kick of coffee. Maybe I’ll be able to enjoy green tea now once I’m not so addicted.

Doug January 7, 2010 at 1:27 pm

One more con about coffee. I don’t have any hard science on this one, but coffee may be a big part of low back pain and muscle tension.

In my acupuncture practice I’ve noticed people that complain of low back pain (and drink more than 5 or 6 cups of coffee a day) get significantly better or have no pain at all after stopping (or reduce to one cup a day).

For all of you with back pain and drink a lot of coffee give it a try.

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 2:51 pm

Interesting observation, Doug. I’ve never heard anything about coffee causing tension or back problems. Luckily I don’t have to worry about those, but I hear back problems are the worst.

nomadic matt January 7, 2010 at 2:42 pm

it can’t be harder than trying to quit smoking. now that is hard…ugghh i’m having issues with it

Corbett Barr January 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm

I hear you man, everyone says quitting smoking is much harder. Good luck!

Kim January 7, 2010 at 4:43 pm

You speak of a battle I know only too well, Corbett. I’m an old caffeine fiend from way back – I’ve always worked in the film and hospitality industries where there are long erratic hours, so coffee & energy drinks have always been my saviour for those all night edit sessions or late nights working in a bar.
I did manage to give up coffee altogether for 9 months a few years ago – can’t actually remember the catalyst for this, but I know I really didn’t miss it.
In the past year I’ve been a shocker – though I am conscious of this and keen to reduce my intake altogether.
I’ve recently stopped drinking energy drinks – been 6 days so far, and looking good from here – though the real test will be when I’m back on set in a few weeks.

Hugh January 7, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Cool post, Corbett. I’ve never heard of someone with withdrawal symptoms like that! I’m one of those people who doesn’t get addicted. I have maybe 4 cups a week and I like it half-caf, because I don’t like the way caffeine affects me (I metabolize it very slowly, apparently, and stay awake for hours at night even if I have a cup at 7AM).

Like everything else, maybe caffeine in moderation is the key? This reminds me of a zentofitness post a few weeks ago that I thought was pretty insightful: http://zentofitness.com/coffee-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/


Nate January 7, 2010 at 6:10 pm

I’m a recovered energy drink addict. I figured out that I was spending well over $100 per month on energy drinks alone, and that is what prompted me to quit. It sucked really bad for a few weeks, and I experienced many of the things that you have. I now drink a cup of green tea in the morning, which has very very little caffeine as you know, and it’s great. Good luck with the rest of your quitting quest!

Tyler January 7, 2010 at 6:28 pm

As a bit of a rebellious kid, I did my fair share of drugs in college and I have to say, caffeine is, without a doubt, my least favorite.

It’s mind numbing to me sometimes what we as a society decide is and isn’t acceptable. Must have something to do with all those studies that refute other studies that refute the studies done before them and, don’t forget, the studies before those ones that were also refuted.

Somewhere down the line, someone with influence picked one of those studies to believe and the rest, as they say, is history.

Either way, good luck to you with your pursuit. I’ve never dealt with addiction before but have seen first hand the wrath that it can have on a person.

Corbett Barr January 8, 2010 at 2:46 pm

I think what we choose is acceptable as a society has more to do with money and influence (lobbyists) than scientific studies. Either way, I agree that our “choices” don’t make much sense.

Mary Thompson January 7, 2010 at 8:24 pm

Ah, kicking the habit is hard. I stopped drinking sodas a few years ago after working my way up to a several a day habit. It honestly sucked at first, but I wanted to be healthier and knew that sodas weren’t doing anything good for me. After quitting it was a lot easier to stay off of them because if you try drinking a coke after not having one for years you will realize they aren’t that great. Or at least I didn’t think so. And once I got past the initial loss of caffeine with a few bad days it got a lot easier to go without it. And luckily I’ve never wanted to even try coffee! Good luck breaking your coffee habit!

Tiffany January 8, 2010 at 7:40 pm

kicking any habit is hard, but coffee especially so since most of us don’t get a lot of sleep. i never thought it would happen, but i LOVE the taste of coffee. as i’m giving up cigarettes, i’ll be giving up coffee, too – since they go so well together. but, i am a firm believer that once your body starts sending you those signals, it’s best to heed them. our bodies know best. best of luck to you!

jforest January 8, 2010 at 11:12 pm

About a year ago I cut down from about 5 or 6 cups a day to one cup a day. It was a rough rough rough process. I think about 2 weeks of agony. I’ve crept back up to 2 cups a day, one at home, and one from dunkin donuts to sip at work as I settle in. I am happy with the 1 or 2 cups of coffee a day, and I don’t think there is much downside to a small amount a day.

Daniel McClure January 9, 2010 at 12:02 pm

You know it’s a funny thing, I used to really dislike coffee when I was younger until one of my first jobs turned out to be in a coffee bar. I went up through the ranks pretty quick and in a couple months I was supervisor and had to test the coffee every morning after the machine had been cleaned to make sure it tasted good. Eventually I learned to like the taste and now I can’t get enough of it. Give the richest, darkest, bitterest, beautiful brew and I’ll be away. I “give up” occasionally because I run out or I just forget for like a week and don’t notice so much. The only troubles I’ve ever had are the post caffeine rush crashes, definitely not one of the best features but it’s a small price to pay.

Robert January 9, 2010 at 3:52 pm

I’ve been trying to kick diet soda for a few months with not much success. Although I’m doing it very progressively. I’ll go off it a week, then back a month, then off it 2 weeks, then back on a month. Each time the goal is to beat the last effort I made. I know for myself, and at least many A type personality go getters, being better than a previous version of yourself is a must! Good luck!

Ross Collicutt January 18, 2010 at 7:42 am

I feel ya Corbett. I’m trying to get off the coffee right now by going to tea. I do drink a fair amount of both but water as well. I don’t think it’s doing much harm but I still hate the fact that I feel like I need it. I quit cold turkey last year when I went to Australia for 4 months. It was easy because I had so much to distract me with.

I don’t have any more at home now but I work at a software company and it’s just something that goes along with the gig. Every programmer has a coffee or an energy drink in their hands at all times.

rb February 7, 2010 at 11:12 am

A london bank had the most excellent espresso in little cardboard shot cups. I drank these as doubles. One lunchtime I counted 20 – twenty – little cups lined up on my desk. At that point I decided to give up. Cold turkey – No tea or coffee. It was hell. The first 3 months I was a mess – the biggest problems were head aches, lack of concentration, fatigue. It took about 3 years to totally get over it. During that time if I had one sip I could feel the effects for 3 days. Now a tiramisu will still keep me awake all night. I gave up 10 years ago.
I do feel a lot better now.
I hated the thought of being addicted to something.

James February 17, 2010 at 11:43 am

I’ve been caffeine and alcohol free for 22 days now and I still have some pretty bad head aches a few times a week and I’m having a hard time sleeping for more than 4-5 hours at a time. Exercising helps a good bit and so does drinking a lot of water but I feel like a zombie most of the day and my concentration is really bad right now. Hopefully things get better b/c I feel worse that I did while on caffeine.

Tim April 17, 2010 at 11:12 pm

nice to see that I am not alone in this battle.

I took a 3 month caffeine break last year, but slowly worked my way back into mental and physical addiction.

I have drank at least one strong cup of black coffee per day over the last four months or so. It has become part of my morning ritual and I do not really wake up until that coffee hits my lips.

All the signs are pointing for me to stop. I have lower back pain, my teeth look and feel worse, and I do not wake up feeling rested. Worst of all, when I am honest with myself, I can feel the addictive hold that coffee has on my mind.

I was a major pothead for 4 years, and I will have 6 months sobriety on April 20th. That said, I seemed to have replaced my marijuana addiction with a coffee addiction.

I want to be free. I want to let my emotions and spirit flow freely without the chains of addiction.

By nature I am an introspective, creative minded person. I truly believe that caffeine channels my mind down a more narrow, confined wavelength, and inhibits my true creativity and emotions.

A few hours ago I took the last 1/4 or so bag of Peet’s Major Dickason and ground it all up, scoop by scoop, then deposited it in the trash.

I don’t plan on looking back.

Corbett April 18, 2010 at 4:46 pm

I feel your pain, Tim. Major Dickason’s is so damn good. Best of luck! It gets better after 10 days or so.

Nancy Verkist April 19, 2010 at 10:23 am

I have read your posts and appreiciate people sharing their experiences in their process of taking either some caffine or all the caffine from their lives.
I wonder if there is anyone who did not care for the taste of coffee and decided to addict themselves to tablet caffine (vivarine). That is what I did over 40 years ago. I needed the energy to keep up with caring for my family, canning and my fast paced job. My job has always been very stressful as well but that took second place over energy.
Now that I am retiring I wanted to remove this horrible addiction from my life. The consumption of Vivarin has caused me years of chronic yeast infections, shaking, constant acid/antiacid use. My joints are all hugh and swollen and terribly sore. Horrifying mood swings(which I constantly tried to control), and depression. I am now in my 3rd week of much less vivarin
and am slowly experiencing less depression, much more control over moods and not as many mood, actual feelings of peace. Of course I am not as productive on my job (if you compare it with what I was able to with the “Tons” of caffine) . I can’t think 3 different ways and answer all the questions one right after the other and be correct in every instance. I don’t even try any more. But I’m becoming a person. I am experiencing some surprising side effects though. Sudden rapid heart beating. When I go to bed I am unable to sleep for hours. I am Hot Hot Hot (temperature wise) all the time and in a sweat. I don’t understand these occurances but hope they will subside as my poor body gets further along in the healing process and adjusts to real Life.
Was my job worth it? No.
I will be a free woman (from my job) July 30, 2010.
I plan on spending all my time with my husband of 43 years.

Paul October 30, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I wonder if employers who praise the super-productive, multi-tasking workers stop to think of the price those folks might be paying.

jacqjolie April 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I was fortunate to have a Scandinavian mother. We had what’s called “swedish coffee” at home when I was growing up. This stuff has none of the acidic aftereffects of regular coffee and is so awesome and smooth. Or try the cold brewing methods, that’s supposed to cut down on the acid. Or quit I guess, but why if you don’t have to? :-)


Rob September 21, 2010 at 9:04 pm

I was drinking 3 cups of black coffee a day and having it all in one cup! I have to say I didn’t think I was that addicted until I quit 2 months ago. I am still just getting over the withdrawal simptons of quitting. Though I feel I definately kicked the habit it put my life in caos during the process. Coffee is highly addictive and anything that is highly addictive should be avoided so you can feel your real self
and wants without some drug masking your true feelings. Anyone that says coffee is an antioxidant is just trying to prevent major companies from going bust selling coffee produce. Coffee is a diaretic it dehydrates the body without adequate water and can cause premature ageing!

Corbett September 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Great points all around, Rob. There are plenty of less addictive places to get antioxidants. Congrats on the rehab.

David October 6, 2010 at 3:45 am

It’s good to read other people going through this.

I have been a coke drinker for over 20 years and gave up in 9 hours under a week (not that Im counting)

I researched around to find someone that listed signs of being addicted but didnt really find anything. But came to the conclusion it wasnt good when I got up at 6am went straight to the fridge and reached for the coke.

I dont think I’ve shown the symptoms of addiction that people say but always say its the only thing that stops me being thirsty. I would have 1 can through the morning, if I had something else I would have drink after drink after drink.

Anyway I wish now I had kept a blog of a day by day step guide as I am suffering over the lat few days and dont know if its the caffine/sugar withdrawel or it I have a bug.

But the pounding headaches, tiredness, dizziness etc is all there…..

Anyway for the first time in 22 years I have gone a week without cola and am proud of myself! :-)

Good luck to all you guys that are given up you’re caffine fix, I cant wait to get to the point where it feels worth it! ;-)

Paul October 30, 2010 at 8:10 pm

Tried a million times to quit. Cant’t even taper off slowly. Too hooked. Prayer welcome.

Adria February 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I quit drinking coffee when I found out that my depression and constant exhaustion were constant withdrawal symptoms. The last straw was the worst headache I’ve ever had, also a withdrawal symptom. These withdrawal symptoms are probably happening in hundreds of thousands of people everyday. What I do know is that for years I have suffered from exhaustion and depression. I’ve been prescribed antidepressants in the past. I believe I was misdiagnosed. I believe that I many, including myself, are clueless about the withdrawal symptoms of caffeine.

robbie February 28, 2011 at 5:06 am

This is a really interesting piece, we’ve got to so careful about caffeine. I believe that its super dangerous and I, first hand, have experienced the amazing effects of quitting it! Here’s a guide for how to quit, do it you won’t regret it http://www.caffeinefreeliving.com
I couldn’t figure out why I felt so terrible all the time, up and downs, etc and the change has been incredible

Nancy June 16, 2011 at 11:59 am

I quit, only for a week, last year. It was absolutely awful. Sleep was the only thing that would make my headache go away. But then I started to feel really normal. The problem is, I work at Starbucks, the opening shift. If I don’t go to bed at 8:30 at night, it is impossible to keep up at work. I have to take a nap almost every afternoon, which depresses me. I am stuck in a rut and I don’t know how to dig myself out!

Roz June 17, 2011 at 1:13 pm

I’ve been drinking coffee on and off since I was about 14, I go through phases where I really like coffee and have it every day, and sometimes go off it and have tea instead.

I really like the taste as well as the caffeine effects.

I recently did a detox and quit coffee temporarily, I discovered that drinking green smoothies and / or protein shakes instead really helped eliminate the coffee cravings and provided an energy boost. Especially if I added some cocoa, though that is kind of cheating because it’s just another way of getting caffeine :D

Admittedly I’m drinking coffee again, but much less than I was before, I was on 4-5 cups a day, but now can get by with just one and some tea in the afternoon.

I’d recommend smoothies / protein shakes for anyone trying to replace coffee with something healthier!

Lion June 18, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Great to hear that I am not the only one with these issues about caffeine!

I am 23 now and I have been drinking coffee and black tea (about the same amount of caffeine, it just gets into the blood stream more slowly) since I was a child of about 6 years.

Since I’m a student, which is closely to 3 years now, I’ve been drinking like 4-6 strong cups almost each and every day.

A few times I had a break of about a week, which has always been horrible. No motivation, drained feeling, bad mood and so on.
After a few days I would always starve for some little bit of caffeine.

This time, which is nearly 7 weeks now, I am pretty successful so far.

Few tips on how to make it easier:

- Switch to some other hot drink. This was a biggie for me. Give grain coffee a try. It tastes great, similiar to coffee, and doesn’t contain any caffeine at all.

My tactic was to quit all forms of caffein for one week. After this first week I would boil a can with 3 spoons of grain coffee and one of ‘real’ coffee. This way I had a kick in the morning (which was most important to me) and drinking a ‘whole can’ of coffee felt great.
A few weaks later I left out even that one spoon of real coffee from time to time.

So currently I still have a bit of caffeine sometimes, and I still love the energy rush and motivational high. But I am just not addicted any longer.

- Drink a lot of water and consider other dietary changes which energize you. This could be eating more veggies, having less junk food etc.
Try this post from zenhabits: http://zenhabits.net/55-ways-to-get-more-energy/

- Do aerobic exercises. This one boosts your energy level tremendously. I haven’t been into running until a year ago and the change was amazing. When I have a 20min run in the morning just after getting up, my whole day is supercharged with productivity and energy.
For about half a year now I also do a lot of swimming and I switched from bus to bike. The impact is huge.

- Spend time outdoors.

- Think about what it will bring you to quit caffeine. I have realized, as well as Steve Pavlina posted in his blog a while ago, that caffeine enhances the function of some parts of my brain while it rater reduces it in other parts. So after lowering my caffeine input I experienced a great improvement in holistic thinking and creativity. My thinking isn’t as linear anymore as it was before and I got better at ‘being complex’.
Moreover, my ability to receive and process information has increased, which is important to me since I am a student and.

So after all I wish you all good luck at quitting caffeine and again I recommend you read this post: http://zenhabits.net/55-ways-to-get-more-energy/

Have a great weekend!

Brian August 30, 2011 at 12:10 pm


First time visitor :)

I read your post and a handful of comments, but I hadnt seen anyone mention what I believe to be the main reasons for quitting coffee. (at least for me)

Obviously, anxiety is rampant in our culture. Coffee does not cause anxiety in my experience, but it definitely heightens it. That pit/worry you get in your stomach while in stressful situations seems to go through the roof when consuming a stimulant like coffee.

If you get nervous in any situation, it is my experience that coffee just makes this much worse. A nervous public speaker or nervous social person should just steer clear all together. Especially if something unexpected comes up. Coffee before any speech or interview is a horrible idea in my experience. It is fine if it is a very low stress situation, but that isnt always the case in those kind of situations.

So, in my experience, it heightens emotions. Anxiety being the most negative. On the other hand, it also seems to enhance that great state of relaxed happiness. People will feel that on a Sunday reading the newspaper on the beach (positive affects of caffeine) and assume coffee is a good thing, and they may not realize that the same stuff that makes pleasant situations more pleasant, also makes any anxiety much worse.

In closing, for optimum happiness and performance, I believe that we need a constant flow of food and water. On mornings where I drink coffee, I dont have the urge to eat until noon. I also am drinking coffee so therefore usually not drinking water. Now I am dehydrated, malnourished, and an anxious mess because of the stimulants.

I will take the more boring, but more even keeled and natural state when I can! :)

Atreya Shankar September 1, 2011 at 1:18 am

Hey Corbett,

Writing for the first time here. I’m 18 years old and I’m currently a student in Singapore. I’m studying for my A levels. Coffee and tea are both my lifelines. I have up to 3 cups of tea and sometimes 1 cup of coffee a day. I drink them because they are an important part of my Indian culture and also because they help me calm down and focus on my studies.

I started off by drinking 1 cup of tea a day back in 2009, but slowly I got hooked and the addiction progressed into what it is now. There have been quite a lot of ill-effects. When I was younger, it caused a lot of acne on my face. My teeth are getting stained and I become tired and worn-out very quickly after consuming the drinks. I also get depressed when my slavery to an external substance dawns upon me.

I’ve been trying very hard to quit, but it’s really difficult. The longing for the drinks kills me. I lose interest in a lot of things and just sleep to kill the time. Maybe it’s so difficult because I’m trying to battle 2 other horrible addictions as well- smoking and pornography. But anyways, thank you so much for writing your article! It has given me much hope in quitting successfully. I hope the day comes when I’ll be able to refuse the generous offer of “tea or coffee?”

Liana September 2, 2011 at 2:50 am

I read your article and i found it quite interesting. I recently suffered from tachycardia and lightness of head due to extensive stress over the course of 6 months. I am also a smoker (which is my true addiction). The problem was so strong that i could hardly walk small distances and let me tell you that i am 27 years old and healthy.
Quitting smoking is the real challenge for me but i decided to reduce it and also i quit drinking coffee. I realized that my tachycardia and dizziness were reduced day by day.
I am at day 5 without coffee, i don’t miss it at all as i drink chamomile or a cup of tea(no more than that) every morning and i faced absolutely no withdrawal symptoms except for one…i want to sleep all day and i am really slow when it comes to remembering certain things.
This side-effect can be quite annoying but i have become so calm that nothing seems to bother me anymore. As a result my tachycardia and dizziness are quite reduced and today (day 5) i walked from home to work (a 40′ distance) and i can’t tell you how great i feel for this small victory!!

Bette October 5, 2011 at 10:55 am

I am on day 2 of quitting. I am so glad to read that the lack of concentration is normal or at least that I’m not the only one experiencing that symptom! I figured that the worst symptom would be headaches. I’ve tried to quit in the past and that was always the first withdrawal symptom. This time it’s the restlessness–I want to do anything but concentrate–eat, sleep, walk around, etc. I feel like a drug addict! Hopefully this will subside soon…

HJM October 11, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Wow! This thread has been going for a while!
I’m in the midst of quitting caffeine, myself.
I am totally envious of people who can just take it or leave it when it comes to caffeine.
I have been a “slave to the bean” for over 20 years. Yikes!
If I sleep in on the weekend (and therefore “miss” my usual early morning coffee) I tend to wake up with a terrible headache. Or even if I just drink less than usual I start to get a nagging headache. It starts small and at first I don’t even notice it, but then it grows until I realize “Damn! My head is killing me!”
By then it’s usually too late for coffee to get rid of the headache; I gotta down 3 or 4 Ibuprofens. That will usually wipe out 80% of the headache, but lately I’ve found that Ibuprofen also makes me sleepy, in that “3 pm” sort of “out of gas” way.
But sometimes the Ibuprofen doesn’t work. :(
In those cases the headache just gets worse and worse until it turns into an actual migraine, complete with nausea and light and sound sensitivity. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone!
So THAT’s why I’m quitting caffeine-AGAIN.

I’ve quit about 3 times. I have to do it cold turkey because I’m terrible at moderation. I always have 4-8 days of lame, crappy headaches and exhaustion. But the good news is: once the withdrawal is over I feel fantastic! I feel like I can think more clearly, and operate on a more even keel instead of in cycles of energy and sloth.

So why do I keep ending up addicted again?
Sometimes I’ll be successfully “off” caffeine for a month or more then have “just a cup” when I have to drive somewhere late at night. And then I have to have another cup the next day since I didn’t get sleep the night before, and maybe one the next day just for a little boost… Or I’ll be out somewhere thirsty and there are no beverages for sale except for coke.
It starts small.
Anyway, now that I have made the realization that the (thankfully infrequent) migraines are actually TRIGGERED by the caffeine withdrawal I don’t intend to mess around any more with it.
Thanks for starting this page. It’s nice to read up a bit when you’re going through something like this.
Peace out!

Hannah December 5, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Caffeine was what also caused my migraines/horrible headaches! They were the worst and I never want to have those daily headaches ever again! Lol

Tony October 13, 2011 at 10:55 pm

6 weeks ago I had emergency surgery. No coffee, doctor’s orders, my first 2 days after surgery. After 2 days, I decided to permanently quit the caffeine. After 30 years of drinking and loving 64 ounces of coffee, every morning, I would quit cold-turkey. I didn’t know what I was in for.

Pain meds in the hospital for the first week, kept the headaches away, but it was when I returned home on day 8 that the real fun began. The lethargic feeling was comical. Although some of my slowness was due to the recuperation after surgery, I knew I wasn’t myself. I had no interest or energy in much of anything. I was popping Bayer at night before bed and early in the morning, to proactively battle the headaches (this actually worked very well). But there was nothing I could do about the my slow moving mind and body.

Now 6 weeks later, I am seeing my first signs of normalcy. Doctors told me it would only take a couple weeks to feel normal again, which is total BS. Look for a solid 6 weeks recuperation time, if your intake is relative to what I used to drink.

I have an occasional iced tea for lunch, but that’s all. Cravings still come, but I brew a couple cups of Yuban decaf, and I feel satisfied (tried several brands, and this was the best).

Good luck!

Janice October 14, 2011 at 6:37 pm

hmm, i drink mild coffee, what we called white coffee in malaysia ….but i still addicted it, is there any form of coffee that generate less acid in our stomach ? is latte the answer?

Hannah December 5, 2011 at 4:35 pm

On June 8th, I took it upon myself to drop caffeine in the soda form. I was only occasionally drinking caffeine soda. (I am a drinker of orange soda, which all except one brand- I think, has no caffeine).. but my occasionally drinking had a terrible effect on me! I had horrible headaches & sometimes migraines, every day! It really affected me, so that’s why I quit. I had headaches, dizziness, very big emotional problems, and was so tired (amongst many other things) for the first couple weeks. Then that stopped and the headaches stopped! I no longer have headaches every day. I have recently got some form of the cold, so I have some occasional headaches from time to time. But it’s the best decision I have ever made!

I’m gonna make my New Year’s resolution to go without eating chocolate for at least a couple months. Then after that, I’ll start allowing myself to have minimal amounts. Because to rid myself of chocolate for the rest of my life would be so unrealistic for me, and you would see this if you knew me. I sometimes eat too much and chocolate also has caffeine, so maybe eliminating a lot of my chocolate intake will make me feel even better!

And if I might add, quitting caffeine has really boosted my immune system to what I can see. I used to be the person who got a cold months before everyone else, then got it again when everyone else had it. This winter, I went without getting a cold for months! And when I did get it, it wasn’t nearly as bad. I just have a bad cough that’s lasted for awhile. I’ve never been one to get really sick physically that often, but quitting caffeine has made me only feel better. And that’s just the pop part of it. I suggest everyone who’s considering it (or suffering through minor problems like daily headaches/migraines) to do it!! It WILL change your life!

CHooper January 3, 2012 at 12:19 pm

It has taken a few months, but I have succeeded in kicking coffee and here is how I did it:

1). I switched to decaf slowly. After drinking 3-4 cups a day of the hard stuff for years, I first scaled back to 2 caffeinated/2 decaf daily, followed soon by all decaf cups.

2). I began drinking very delicious herbal tea often.

3). After a few months on decaf, I totally lost interest in drinking coffee. Without the kick, it eventually started to taste like brown water. And tea tasted so much better.

Please note that I did not do this because I think coffee is inherently bad, but just because I was addicted and don’t want to be addicted to anything. Good luck to all the people trying to quit!

alex January 9, 2012 at 7:59 am

I kept beating myself over the head when I failed to stop cold turkey. The stress of knowing that ‘this cup will be your last’ doiesn’t help either. I would drink excessive amounts of coffe on a particular day, telling myself I am going to stop the next day. It made the situation worse for me. Now I am drinking 2 cups a day in the morning, soon I will go to 1 cup. Then I will go decaf. I will only drink coffee from home from now on, no more Starbucks. Coffee has a huge affect on me, when I feel depressed i drink some and feel relieved. I know for sure it is very addictive, even know some people think your crazy….
I stopped drinking alcohol 4 years ago, stopped smoking 2 years ago so I’m doing pretty damn well so far! I don’t drink soda by the way…
Wil update in a while and let u know how I’m doing…
Good luck guys… And I’m proud of all of you!!!!

Shane February 5, 2012 at 9:28 am

I haven’t read many posters sharing their life-after-coffee experience, so I will share mine.

Imagine falling asleep every night within ten minutes after lying down.
Imagine staying asleep all night long–never waking up until your body (not your mind) is fully ready to start a new day.
Imagine that immediately upon waking up, you feeling physically–and mentally–renewed, thankful for another day.
Imagine going through your day without ever feeling the need for “something” more to get you through.
Imagine a calmer approach and reaction to the challenges and distractions each day brings.
Imagine finally feeling in control of your emotional highs and lows.

This is my new life since I have been caffeine-free. I have a new sense of well-being and a wholly new outlook on life. I am free.

Katie February 5, 2012 at 10:18 am

Try pregnancy!

After years as a 10+ cups of tea/coffee per day kinda girl, I went cold turkey the moment I learned I was pregnant, and have never looked back. Woud never have made the effort just for myself, but knowing it was for my baby gave me iron-clad motivation – even through the most excrutiating withdrawal headaches…

machine March 17, 2012 at 4:14 am

Me and my friend years ago use to work for a security company.We guarded construction sites.One night we decided to drink to load up all 4 coffee makers up and brew coffee and then drink it all.We both had to drink 2 pots of coffee.The first one of did it won $20 bucks and could stay home the next time we worked on the clock.Well after the 19th cup we were both out of it.The next thing i knew we were both playing on the construction equipment running around the construction lot playing chicken with bulldozers.We got tired of that and jumped on the crane.Well we would take turns lifting each other up about 200 feet in the air.We tied a rope around us when the crane lifted us up in the air.Anyways the crane ran out of gas and the hydrolic system would not let the crane back down.My friend was stuck up there traped screaming calling me names i have never even heard before.Thank god another crane was on site so i used it to get him down.We ended up fueling up the other crane and fixing the construction site so nobody knew.We both figured the 19 cups coffee was like taking 10 lines of coke.I was up the rest of the day and had to work that night it was hell for me and my friend.The only problem our supervisor called us both and imformed us we were both fired.It turns out the construicon comapny had a hidden camera on the lot for security reasons.lol.

Bobbie May 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I am on day #5 without any coffee and I can tell you that I’m not having any fun. I feel depressed and alone. Everyone keeps telling me that its no big deal to have coffee. No way to live without it…ect.
I have such high anxiety and when I drink coffee or energy drinks and the high wears off, I become aggitated and quickly anger.
I am tired of feeling edgy and I can’t have coffee without coconut milk and two tsp of sugar, which makes it even harder to quit.
The headache isn’t unbearable, but its annoying and I’m soooooo tired. Thank the Lord I am able to be a homemaker. I get to nap while the kids are at school and the husband at work.
My thinking is very slow. Definitely no clear thinking yet. I feel a little nauseas (sp) also.
–I was consumming about 6, 16oz cups of coffee a day and an energy drink at least three times a week….I have been a coffee drinker for about ten years but only got bad about five years ago when I quit smoking. It kind of replaced the need to have a cigarette.

ecnuB June 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Years ago in my early twenties discovering the wonders of coffee, a cup would cause a rapid heart rate, sweaty palms even panic attacks, I thought to myself I must stop only to find myself cry uncle and get that caffeine fix a month later, the viscous cycle began.

My suggestion is “mas moderno” or things in moderation to build a tolerance.

I got this idea of reading of the assassination attempts on Hitler and/or Stalin who intentionally were building a tolerance to cyanide little by little.

Gruodis June 22, 2012 at 5:01 am

I am on my day 17 of the rapid withdrawal. I was consuming 2-3 energy drinks a day, sometimes substituting it by 1-2 litres of cola for at least 10 years with some short breaks. Not that much comparing to heavy coffee drinkers. But energy drinks have taurine which is almost the same as caffeine, and are high in vitamins, and this only makes everything more complicated. I had problems with anxiety and digestion for a long period of time. Once in 1-2 years i have hypochondriac crisis, when I have bad digestion and a lot of physical symptoms leading to no real diseases, – confirmed after I am examined by doctors. When crisis starts I feel anxious and usually stop my caffeine intake. I never realized that by doing that every single time (7 times in 10 years!!!) I had severe withdrawal. I just thought that I endure my health crisis and attributed it to my poor digestion. No one could explain tremors, headaches, tiredness. One doctor suggested IBS. Once I was placet to the hospital to check if I have brain infection. No one found anything serious. Later I was sent to the psychiatrist and was (mis-)diagnosed by depression (otherwise being happy family man, religious, having good job and living interesting life!). During the period of every of such health anxiety crisis (3 to 6 weeks usually) I was taking antidepressants, and when the crisis ended, I tapered these drugs and successfully discontinued them every time. I felt no depression, felt great and thus started my caffeine habit again. So stupid, I never thought that every time I was suffering from extreme caffeine withdrawal, and every symptom was caused by it. This time i quit caffeine on purpose, in order to start healthy life. I started reducing my intake, switched to 2 and later to 1 can of cola pop per day and in 2 weeks I still felt all those well-known old bad symptoms: nausea, numb hands and neck, trembling muscles somewhere inside your body, headache, anxiety and depressive mood + lack of interest in anything and no motivation at work. Sexual drive is long gone, I manage to sleep no more than 6 hors during the night and get up with no apetite and not ready for a day. As I have mentioned, today is day 17. I do not drink any cola at all, and I only say that things are changing gradually – for the past 2 days I feel more happy and more alive. I even smile and joke. Happiness returns, my body is starting to fix itself after initial shock that took more than 2 weeks.

James June 24, 2012 at 3:43 am

I am down to 2 cups of black tea a day from a very large coffee and tea habit. I feel much better although I am sometimes very tired and lethargic. I plan on dropping to just 1 cup of tea tomorrow. Then in five days drop to zero. If I need a longer taper then that’s OK.

Nathan August 1, 2012 at 7:43 am

I spent last week going from 6 or more cups a day to 2 cups and by the end of the week 1 cup. I’m on day 4 with no caffeine at all. I’m actually having trouble sleeping through the night but I’m dreaming more. I am attributing this to withdrawal. It has gotten better each day. I’m able to function at work now and the headaches are pretty much gone.

Tony August 28, 2012 at 10:11 am

Kind of crazy how old this thread is and it still gets comments. In case some poor, desperate soul is one day looking for tips on how to give up caffeine, here is what I did and with great success.

I simply could not just go cold turkey, and as many times as I tried gradually reducing the amount of coffee and substituting it with decaf, it just never seemed to work. I finally figured out why, at least for me. Part of my habit was chemical (a huge part), but another significant part was ritual and enjoyment. I decided to get very precise about reducing my caffeine over a long period of time, and the only way I could exactly know how much caffeine I was having was with caffeine pills. So, I started with 2 x 200mg pills over the course of a morning, which was roughly equivalent to my coffee intake. Every couple of weeks, I would cut down by one quarter of one pill (50 mg). Do the math, it took me a few months to get down to zero and I had almost no withdrawal effects until I got to the very end. And when I did get to the end, by that point I had also been without the ritual (smell, sounds, sight, taste) of coffee for a good little while, so there wasn’t that component of it to attract me again. I can now go to coffee shops and though I love how it smells, still, I am not quite as tempted to pick my habit back up again.

If and when I really, really need caffeine, I can rely on just a tiny amount to give me quite a boost, then I have to be disciplined and not make it a way of life again. Contrary to what it may seem… I find that discipline leads to more freedom, not less. I can now choose when and how much and why and in what form I want caffeine. To my great delight, I have also learned to use my new found love for discipline in other areas of life, so in that sense, it has also been somewhat of a transformation for me personally, as I was never much known for being very disciplined.

Hope this helps someone at some point.

Roy Butler August 28, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Yeah, it is. I actually find it harder to quit caffeine than smoking. It’s such a intense feeling knowing that you can’t have that sugary drink. It’s maddening.

Jane September 13, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I love that people are still commenting on this thread. I see you wrote this article a little over two and a half years ago…are you still caffeine free? I really love coffee…but it leaves me with terrible fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. Uggghh! I am starting tomorrow…cold turkey…no caffeine. I am going to blog it as I go. I am going to start with 30 days since that’s a goal I can quantify and see where it goes from there. If anyone reads this and would like to take this journey with me, please go to http://stopcaffeine.blogspot.com ~Jane

Rick September 26, 2012 at 8:15 am

I stood at the verge of quitting caff once; I <3 energy drinks like Red Bull, AMP etc. And there is a good reason for loving them: While I am high I can be wired, focussed and I can do hours and hours of programming, read zillions of things and remember them, point them out on discussions, do crazy good things; (I have written some of my best code and frameworks alike being wired on caffeine).

Without Caffeine, I can't do all of those things and a few more things. I went cold turkey once, it was the toughest thing I ever did, after 48 hours I puked a couple of times, but I stuck it out and was clean for atleast 6 months.

But then started again; This time again as it always has been it was my need to be at the best at what I do kicked in, once more; Since this was after 6 months, the results were astonishing, wrote a hugely useful entire framework in 1 week. (I had been thinking about doing it for atleast 2 months :-) )

Now again, I am on the verge of quitting; But this time, I am going to quit for good (thats what I always tell myself); but I have different reasons for quitting, the best thing is to really write them down and memorize them.

Whitney April 22, 2013 at 9:53 am

I have tried several times to quit drinking coffee “cold turkey” and I always had a replase. I am in my second week now of cutting back very, very slowly, and since I am in no great rush to stop, it may be the best way for me. I am making my coffee as usual in the pre-measured k-cups, then when it is ready, I pour the coffee in the mug. Next, I take a tablespoon and remove one tablespoon of coffee from the mug, each and every day. I have on hand, hot apple cider, if I want that as well, since the amount of coffee in my mug is getting less and less each day.

Nathan April 22, 2013 at 1:58 pm

I quit caffeine on July 28th, 2012 and have never looked back. I was up to 8 to 10 cups per day. I drink herbal coffee from Teeccino when I want a coffee tasting hot beverage to satisfy my need for a hot beverage other than tea.

Sandra April 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I am one of those people who suffer every withdrawal symptom. Headaches, fatigue, cloudy, tired, sleepy, muscle aches (muscles in thighs ache and ache), and even have hot and cold chills. I have quit before but the ritual pulls me back in. I am on day 2 right now and have pretty much slept the day away. I am definitely one who is very sensitive to caffeine and I hate that I have not been able to stay away more than 6 months. Perhaps I will be successful this time…

stacie August 29, 2013 at 8:10 am

I stopped drinking Coke Zero exactly four days ago. I also gave up all complex carbohydrates and dairy as well as meat. I am doing the 21 day Damiel fast. I generlaly drink about 8 cans of Diet Coke a day and atleast 3 days a week a Five Hour Energy. After 24 hours of no caffeine I was vomiting and had such a bad headache I could hardly get out of bed. I nearly fell aslepp at my desk at work. The only drink I am allowed to consume for the next 16 days is water. The headaches continue but are slowly getting better. I do notice I am dehydrated when I wake up as I need to be drinking more water. This may also be alot of the reason for my headches.I have promised myself to never go back to artificial sweetners or caffeine. After seeing what I am going through (withdrawls) I cant imagine what it could be doing to harm my body. Looking forward to leading a caffeine free healthy life!

Kelly Evans November 4, 2013 at 12:48 pm

I drink coca cola nearly 3 times and a cup of coffee per day for 2 years now and I try to stop ,because my teeth have become yellow! I get scared my teeth will rot, that’s why I’m trying to stop, but I find it the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to quit!

Rasheed Hooda January 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I met someone at IHOP and ordered coffee as I usually did, then we got to talking business, and we were done, the coffee was sitting there untouched.

I made a comment to the effect that I didn’t need it anyway. She asked me why I drank coffee, and I said I like the taste, but then immediately realized that that was not a true statement. I don’t particularly like the taste. So she repeated the question, and I decided to quit. The same way I quit smoking 26 years ago. I couldn’t justify continue doing it.


Rhia January 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm

That’s the process I’m going through now. I’m down to 3 coca colas a day, but it’s killing me. I’m still having a lot of headaches and crave my usual 6+ a day.

Bob Bessette January 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm

I know, but that is why I like it! It’s still one cup… :-)


Fabian | The Friendly Anarchist January 7, 2010 at 7:08 pm

+1 for the update! :)
And John, as for now, I really wouldn’t see a reason to quit for you, either. If it gives pleasure and does no hrm, what’s not to like?

As for me, I am drinking coffee since my childhood (started when I was 7 or 8 years old) and dumped it for 2 months in 2009. No cold turkey apart from small headache for 2 or 3 days. But after the two months, nothing felt better or worse, and I really missed the taste and the ritual, so I started again, and have been feeling fine ever since. One thing I try not do is drinking caffeine products after around 5pm. It tends to mess with my sleep…

Sam May 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I quit coffee a week ago, and now I am experiencing the worst dehydration ever. I keep on drinking water all day and I cannot get enough. Is that normal? or should I be concerned about other problems?

Kenn January 14, 2010 at 7:24 am

I think the way to deal with those conflicts is to ignore whatever the latest study of the week says and simply exercise moderation (unless we’re talking about things with no benefits, such as cigarettes or HFCS).

Adria February 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm

I agree. You see this in multiple industries. One that comes to mind is the attack on high fructose corn syrup. So what if it is causing overwhelming health issues for children and adults, it’s bad for the corn industry if we get rid of a lucrative corn product. Right? Now it’s interesting to me, I complain about depression and exhaustion, I get prescribed a pill. Oh well! At least the doctor is funding the pharmaceutical companies, even if I was misdiagnosed. Now that I think about it, how would they know what’s causing the symptoms if they aren’t looking at the whole picture. We are what we eat as they say.

Jason Philo June 18, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Okay, 6 months to reply… sorry, just came across the article. I love your process! It’s so zen-like! I like it… wait, no I don’t! How cool.

I too quit coffee once 11 years ago and was off it for a while. I was drinking waaaaaayyyyy too much. Now I have a couple cups in the morning and that’s it. Sometimes I’ll have one in the afternoon if I’m working late, but otherwise I have a much better grasp of my limits.

Maybe I’ll see how I do without it one morning just for kicks—then try two and so on. More out of curiosity than anything, well it will save a few bucks too.

Ian April 19, 2012 at 11:03 pm

It sure is! But let me say that I had the best cold-turkey inspiration of all time, and it really put things into perspective for both energy drinks and coffee.

Recently found out that my 22-year old cousin had a HEART ATTACK related directly to energy drinks. Literally stopped my Red Bull habit that day, haven’t touched that or any other energy drink since (probably three months or so now). Still working on kicking my coffee habit…I know this post was a while ago but I’ve been trying to convince myself I don’t really need it. So, so hard. Corbett, your article is a breath of fresh air because I was nodding along with everything about coffee you struggle with–as I finish my cup of English Breakfast tea!

But I would agree and emphasize that stopping cold-turkey is so much more effective than “downsizing” your intake or substituting for something with similar effect but less potency, though I can only reliably speak of energy drinks. It’s just a matter of getting it out of your reach, changing your route throughout the day, plan on carrying X amount of cash so that you are limited and can’t get access to something like that even if you had the opportunity…there are plenty of ways to beat it!

Now it’s time for MY nap. Thanks, Corbett. Good stuff.

Corbett May 16, 2012 at 9:50 am

Never heard of that one. Might want to talk to a medical professional.

JoshL July 4, 2012 at 9:51 am

I too realize this article is from awhile ago but it was like the second thing to come up in Google when I was searching for caffeine withdrawal type stuff.. I just wanted to read some other people’s experiences to make sure that what is happening to me is normal.

But I am 6 days in now, and today is a little easier but MAN those first 4 or 5 days were INSANELY hard only because of how freaking lethargic I felt… I could hardly convince myself to just stand up. I didn’t want to do ANYTHING..

I actually didn’t get any more sleep than usual (I usually get quite a lot – 10 hours or so) because I would take caffeine in the form of either coffee or energy drink and then hit the gym for about 2 hours straight of cardio (I know, probably not the healthiest or safest thing to have been doing)- If I don’t do something active right away after having caffeine then I feel fuzzy brained and flustered and get anxiety all day until it SLOWLY wears off.

I think I am done with caffeine for good. I too have quit before and remember feeling great and having a very normal level of energy that I could increase with exercise if I just gave myself a little bit of motivation to get moving. But stuff like that wreaks havoc on your adrenal system and it’s time to start getting healthy for me.

JoshL July 4, 2012 at 9:56 am

One more thing – Corbett or anybody else who has heartburn – Try squeezing a fresh lemon into a glass of water every morning and every night before bed and it should take away your heartburn.. I do that every day for other health benefits but I was aware of the alkalizing properties and suggested it to my mom who takes some pretty serious heartburn meds and even prescription meds and has never had relief until she tried the lemon water. I know it seems like it would make things worse because of the acid but for some reason it just doesn’t work that way. My mom started doing this a little over a year ago and has not had to take a single pill for heartburn since.

Shane Rich February 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm

If you read through many of the comments here you’ll soon realize that you are one of many people that metabolize caffeine very very well. Some people here are describing withdrawal symptoms much much worse than that of your own. Caffeine is not a problem for you like smoking is not a problem for me but for many people like myself caffeine addiction is an enormous challenge. If you are only experiencing “small headaches”, you do not have a heavy addiction. Moreover you’re liver likely metabolizes caffeine very well.

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