Caffeine Addiction and Effects

Caffeine is used in a number of products that we consume. You will find it in coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, as well as several kinds of medication. Over 80 percent of the Earth's population eat, drink, or consume caffeine on a daily basis.

What is Caffeine Addiction?

A caffeine addict is someone who doesn't just enjoy their morning coffee or a sweet chocolate treat. They feel that they can't get through the day without consuming caffeine. Without it, they don't feel alert.

Signs of Caffeine Dependence

Caffeine addicts display these kinds of symptoms:

  • Difficulty concentrating without caffeine
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent headaches
  • PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
  • Pronounced mood swings
  • Trouble staying awake during the day

Causes of Dependency

Caffeine increases the level of stress hormones in the body. As a result, you feel an increased sense of alertness between 30-45 minutes after ingesting it. This substance also raises the levels of dopamine in the brain in the same way as other drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines, or heroin, do.

Since caffeine is a stimulant, addicts may find it difficult to get to sleep at night. The person feels tired when they get up in the morning and reaches for a cup of coffee or other source of caffeine to feel awake enough to get through the day. Over time, this pattern of behavior turns into a vicious cycle. If you are drinking six cups of coffee a day or more, you may start to develop a tolerance for caffeine.

Effects of Use

When someone ingests caffeine, it has a number of effects on his or her body, including:

  • Elevated mood
  • Raised blood pressure
  • Increased attentiveness
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Irritated stomach lining

Complications and Long Term Effects of Caffeine Abuse

Symptoms of caffeine use in large quantities include:

  • Difficulty with fine motor skills
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased respiration rate
  • Insomnia
  • Trembling

Pregnant women are cautioned to limit their intake of caffeine, since it may harm the fetus.

Help and Treatment for Caffeine Addiction

If you are wondering how to quit using caffeine, you need to be aware that stopping "cold turkey" may lead to withdrawal symptoms that can start as soon as 18 hours after the last time you ingested it. These symptoms peak within 24-48 hours and will subside within seven days, so getting over a caffeine addiction initially can be a relatively quick process. When you first try to quit caffeine, you may experience the following:

  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Headache
  • Fatigue

A better plan to deal with a caffeine addiction may be to keep track of how much caffeine you are ingesting and slowly cut back. Keeping a journal may help, and you may be surprised to find how much caffeine you are actually ingesting. Some people find that hypnotherapy is an effective way of quitting caffeine. Talk to others to learn how they beat an addiction to caffeine in our forum.

Beyond Quitting: Caffeine Recovery and Rehabilitation

There are support groups dedicated to helping those who are addicted to caffeine. An online search will help you find ones that meet in person or virtual ones that you can access from anywhere with an Internet connection. Visit our addiction recovery program directory to find one near you.