A woman sitting in a chair holding a grey mug.
Around 64% of Americans drink coffee.

How to Reverse Coffee Addiction

Coffee is a beloved beverage all over the world. According to a study produced by the National Coffee Association, 64% of Americans drink coffee. The Coffee Association of Canada states that 72% of Canadians enjoy at least one cup of coffee per day.

People often joke that they are addicted to coffee, but is it actually a joke? This article will describe the causes and effects of coffee addiction, as well as what you can do to break the addiction.

What Is Coffee Addiction?

Coffee addiction is precisely what it sounds like; it is when the need for a quick pick-me-up from coffee in the morning morphs into a daily dependence.

Though coffee is certainly considered less harmful than drugs, the way people consume coffee does have some things in common with illicit drug use. For example, people often develop a tolerance for caffeine, requiring more and more to achieve the same level of alertness as time goes on. People may also experience withdrawal when they miss a daily dose. This buildup of tolerance and subsequent withdrawal is how people become addicted to coffee.

What Makes Coffee Addicting?

The reason coffee has this effect on us is because of its active ingredient: caffeine. Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant. Though it is a very mild stimulant compared to others like amphetamine or cocaine, caffeine is still technically a drug in the medical sense. This is demonstrated somewhat by its name. Take note to the similarity to other drug names like amphetamine, morphine and codeine.

But we forget that caffeine is a drug because it is so widely consumed. In fact, it is the most widely consumed psychoactive drug in the world. Because it is so widely accepted, unlike other drugs, people may not even notice they are addicted.

Symptoms of Coffee Addiction

Coffee addiction can be a bit more difficult to identify because coffee is safe to drink in moderation, unlike other more addictive drugs. So, what matters more in identifying coffee addiction is how caffeine affects you as opposed to just counting how many cups of coffee you drink per day.

Some signs that your coffee drinking may be an addiction are:

  • Frequently drinking more coffee than you initially intended
  • Having tried to cut down your caffeine consumption but failed
  • Continuing to drink coffee despite noticing negative side effects like anxiety, insomnia, stomach upset, rapid heart rate and frequent urgent urination
  • Experiencing an increased tolerance to caffeine, requiring more and more each day to achieve the same energy boost
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms like headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, low energy, irritability, or tremors when you do not consume coffee

If any of the above signs apply to you, you may be experiencing an addiction to the caffeine in coffee. Read on to learn about some things you can do to reverse this addiction.

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How Can You Reverse Coffee Addiction?

One plus side to caffeine addiction is that it tends to be less severe than an addiction to other drugs like cocaine, amphetamine, or heroin. It’s perfectly possible and safe to simply quit drinking coffee cold turkey once you are aware that your coffee drinking is problematic. The withdrawal symptoms will be uncomfortable for sure, but the withdrawal period for caffeine tends to be fairly short. Most caffeine addictions can be resolved with one to two weeks of reducing consumption.

However, if you have been addicted to coffee for a long time, quitting cold turkey may be much more difficult, so there are options to slowly taper off your caffeine usage over time. These include:

  • Making both decaf and caffeinated coffee and drinking half-and-half so you can have the same amount of coffee but less caffeine.
  • Purchasing a smaller mug and use this for your coffee in the morning. You can feel like you are drinking the same number of cups, while drinking much less coffee.
  • Slowly reducing the number of cups of coffee you drink. Make a schedule for this and stick to it.
  • Switching entirely to decaf coffee but consuming a small amount of caffeine in other forms, such as gum or pills. These can be much more carefully measured and monitored to taper usage over time on your schedule.

In Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no way to guarantee no withdrawal symptoms if you reduce caffeine consumption and the only way to eliminate a tolerance for caffeine is to reduce consumption. If you are having a lot of difficulty reducing your caffeine usage after using the above tips, do not be afraid to talk to your doctor, who may be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for your particular problem.

Caffeine addiction can definitely be an issue and it is probably more common than we realize. But with a bit of determination and possibly a bit of help from family, friends, or a doctor, it is possible to reverse your addiction and get your life back.