Dealing with Caffeine Withdrawal

coffee in a cup

How Long Does Withdrawal from Caffeine Last?

People who consume caffeinated beverages often are familiar with some of the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. The mild to severe symptoms you have when you skip your morning coffee are some of the effects of caffeine withdrawal. Headaches, irritability, and fatigue are probably the most common signs of caffeine withdrawal. Whenever you have this feeling, you always want to grab a caffeinated drink to get some relief.

You probably didn`t know that caffeine withdrawal is now recognized as a disorder in the DSM-5, the manual which clinicians for the diagnosis of mental disorders.

5 Symptoms of Caffeine Withdrawal

Negative Mood

Sometimes referred to as dysphoria, caffeine withdrawal causes various negative mood states. One may feel depressed at some point, while at other times, they may feel anxious or irritable. These feelings are usually temporary, and would normally stop once the withdrawal is over.

Mental Fogginess

The brains of those who are withdrawing from caffeine don`t work as efficiently as they should. They particularly perform poorly on mental tasks. What they experience is simply a rebound effect from the stimulating and performance-enhancing effects of caffeine. Unfortunately, many drinking more caffeine when they feel this way; well, it only makes the cycle continue.


caffeine withdrawalA major caffeine withdrawal symptom is a severe headache, which has some similarities to a migraine headache. The headache is accompanied by vasodilation, which is the widening of the blood vessels in the head and neck.

Nausea and Vomiting

People who experience caffeine withdrawal may suffer nausea and stomach upset, which are even more common than vomiting. Nausea is an unpleasant sensation of queasiness or feeling as if one is about to vomit.

Dizziness or Lightheadedness

Being light-headed or dizzy is another common caffeine withdrawal symptom. If you`re experiencing this while trying to break the addiction, try cutting down gradually. Stopping abruptly may make you feel worse.

How to Deal with Caffeine Addiction

Research has shown that the most effective way to relieve caffeine withdrawal symptoms is by taking more caffeine. The most important factor here is to check the quantity you consume. Be sure not to take more than the amount you consumed before. You can, instead, reduce your caffeine intake by about 10% every two weeks, and you may attain being caffeine-free after some months of consistency. The advantage of this gradual cut down is that the withdrawal symptoms will be minimal. As you cut down on your caffeine intake, you`re advised to gradually replace your caffeinated foods and drinks with un-caffeinated or decaffeinated varieties.

Keep a Caffeine Diary

Write all the caffeinated foods and drinks you consume in your caffeine diary. Be sure not to miss the labels of painkillers or supplements. Check if they contain caffeine. As you reduce your caffeine intake by 10%, keep a daily record.

There are various ways you can do your caffeine intake reduction. You may reduce each caffeinated drink by 10% and dilute it with some hot or cold water or decaffeinated coffee or tea. You may also just reduce the actual number of drinks by 10%, with diluting. So if you had 10 cups of coffee a day, you may start by reducing it to 9.

Decaffeinated coffee is effective at reducing caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as cravings, poor alertness, fatigue, and flu-like feelings. Decaffeinated coffee gives the placebo effect, as people going through caffeine withdrawal actually feel like they are drinking caffeinated coffee.

As your withdrawal symptoms diminish, you`d find it helpful to replace every caffeinated drink you stop taking with a non-caffeinated drink such as water, herbal tea, or decaffeinated coffee or tea. This helps you to gradually develop an interest in caffeine-free drinks.

Drink Lots of Water

water in glassThis is easier said than done, as you will initially find it difficult, however, helpful. Get yourself to drink a glass or two of water when you wake up to experience some boost in your energy levels. It’ll also make up for the water loss you experience when you consume caffeine.

Drink Some Green Tea

Drinking a cup of green tea every morning is effective at replacing the ritual of drinking a cup of coffee. It`s an effective substitution for your daily coffee intake.


People who try to break caffeine addiction will need some energy boost, and exercising is a good way to get that. It will energize you physically and mentally, as well as help you recover faster from caffeine withdrawal symptoms.

Ask for Help

You will probably find it difficult to do this alone. Find a partner! Find a friend or relative who’s also willing to give up caffeine and work with them on this healthy path. You sure will get some motivation from them, and be accountable to them. That keeps your commitment in check.

Some Interesting Facts you Should Know

  • Moderate caffeine consumption is 200–300 mg per day. Doses higher than 500–600 mg are heavy and can cause insomnia, irritability, and rapid heart rate.
  • 90% of adults all over the world consume caffeine in some form.
  • Finland is the topmost caffeine-consuming country, with the average adult consuming 400 mg each day. Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and France also consume lots of coffee.
  • Women metabolize caffeine about 25% faster than men.
  • Asians metabolize caffeine slower than Caucasians.
  • The medical name for caffeine is 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine.
  • In 1732, when coffee was forbidden to women of childbearing age because of the myth that it caused infertility, Bach composed the “Coffee Cantata,” which celebrated the delights of coffee in the life of a young bride.
  • Coffee is a diuretic, which is why it causes much urination.
  • Pure caffeine is a bitter, highly toxic white powder.
  • Caffeine starts working after 15–20 minutes of consumption. The effects usually last 8–14 hours, depending on the gender, weight, age, and race of the person who consumes it.
  • There are about 60 plants that contain caffeine.
  • Caffeine is the fourth most widely used drug in the world.
  • Roasting coffee beans decreases the caffeine levels; that explains why darker roasts have lower caffeine levels.
  • Smokers synthesize caffeine more quickly.
  • Tea leaves have higher caffeine content than coffee beans.
  • The three most popular drinks in the world all contain caffeine:
    coffee, tea, and cola.
  • Caffeine works by blocking inhibiting brain juice and increasing dopamine.

Now that you Know…

Caffeine definitely contains some addictive qualities, and just like the dopamine boost we get from white sugar, caffeine triggers the same pleasure spots of the brain. It works like any other addictive drug, making you want more of it.

Trying to go from four cups of coffee a day to drinking none at all will leave you with some adverse reactions such as severe headaches, anxiety, sluggishness, lack of concentration, and depression. It`s better to break your addiction to caffeine by tapering off slowly. You may begin by taking one cup off your normal daily intake for the first week, then replace it with decaf coffee. Do this gradually until you are totally free from the addiction with minimal withdrawal symptoms. Remember that you will do better with breaking any habit by replacing it. You also need to be committed to the process.

You may find an accountability partner to keep you in check. If possible, find someone who`s also trying to break free from caffeine addiction.