Caffeine, When Does it Become an Addiction?

December 29 2016

Jacqueline Rosenhek

You wake up in the morning, you take your shower, you eat your breakfast, you drink a cup of coffee. You are on your way to work, you have another cup of coffee. You arrive at work, you begin working, eventually you might have another cup of coffee. You have probably said things like “Do not talk to me before I have had my cup of coffee” or “I can barely function without my morning coffee.” You may not recognize it as such, but when you really look at it, this is a dependency, an addiction. Caffeine is probably one of the most common substances that people are addicted to. It keeps us alert and energetic and it comes in so many forms, coffee, energy drinks, teas even pills. As socially acceptable as caffeine is, addiction to it can be very harmful both physically and mentally.  While caffeine can have positive effects and help us become more productive at work, more awake in our day to day lives and gives us a bit of an extra bounce in our step, it is generally healthier to try to be able to do this without having to use a substance you can easily become dependent on. You know you’ve become dependent on caffeine when the following signs occur when you do not consume caffeine:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Irritability
  • Lack of focus
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea

Caffeine withdrawal is just like any other drug withdrawal, very unpleasant and difficult. The experience can last anywhere from a week to a couple of months depending on how much caffeine you consume. There are many benefits to quitting caffeine as well! Your blood pressure will lower as well as your anxiety levels. Your teeth will be healthier and your mood will balance out and your sleep patterns will be more regulated as well just to name a couple of things. It is a good idea to drink lots of water to flush any excessive caffeine out of your system as well as rehydrate yourself. It is also important to try to find time to meditate and do yoga to help take off the edge of agitation that comes with caffeine withdrawal. Vitamin B is also very important to help reduce anxiety and to replenish yourself of it since caffeine tends to make us lose a lot of it through urination and sweat.  Try to replace caffeine with other sources of energy that are not so habit forming. Ginseng, ginkgo biloba, and rhodiola supplements are well known to help maintain energy. Caffeine is the most widely accepted drug in the world, and while it may not have the same dangerous effect as many street drugs tend to have, you can most likely do better without it.

 

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