Caffeine Detox: How to Quit Caffeine and Break the Addiction

quitting-caffeine

A caffeine detox may be needed for many reasons and some of those could include:

  1. Caffeine may no longer have the same effects it once had.
  2. Daily caffeine consumption amounts are out of control.
  3. Caffeine consumption is leading to health problems.
  4. Doctor’s orders.

Whichever the reason, quitting caffeine isn’t easy since most people develop a strong dependance on the daily dose; both physically and mentally.

There are generally two ways to detox from caffeine and we describe each of those methods below.

Two Methods for Quitting Caffeine

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1. The Cold Turkey Method

With this method a person simply ceases to consume caffeine. While this can be the fastest way to detox, it does come with a price.

Pros: 

  • The fastest way to detox from caffeine.
  • A realization of caffeine’s influence on body functioning.

Cons:

  • Can produce severe caffeine withdrawal symptoms.
  • A person may be out of commission for 1 to 3 days.
  • Can lead to loss in productivity.
  • Produces more of a tendency to give up.
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2. The Weaning Method

With this method, instead of quitting caffeine all at once, the person gradually reduces the amount of caffeine he/she is consuming daily.

We recommend stepping down the dose about 50mg less each day until the zero daily caffeine amount is achieved. This can be achieved by just drinking less of your typical caffeinated beverage or by drinking a less caffeinated alternative.

Pros:

  • Withdrawal symptoms are much less severe.
  • Most people can continue to function and be productive.
  • Mild to no caffeine headache to deal with.
  • Less shocking to the system.

Cons:

  • Can take longer to detox depending on the beginning daily dose amount.
  • Requires tracking caffeine and being intentional about what’s being consumed and how much.

Either one of these caffeine detox methods will work, but a person has to decide which one will have the least impact of his/her lifestyle and which one is likely to be the most successful given the unique circumstances involved.

A Personal Caffeine Detox Story

Ok, I feel lousy.caffeine-detox

I’m tired, unmotivated, and my head’s foggy.

I have half a headache and I’m cranky. Why?

Well, thanks for asking. Yesterday I decided to start a caffeine detox.

For several weeks I’ve felt the need to reset my “caffeine clock”. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, I need to return to the time before I had such a tolerance of caffeine.  A wonderful time where one coffee would bring feelings of elation and joy, leaving me ready to take on whatever task was before me.

Unfortunately, the occasional coffee turned into one a day, then two a day, then mixed with energy drinks and chocolate covered espresso beans. Wham, I was hooked. I soon noticed that I wasn’t really getting the benefits of caffeine anymore and really just needed it to maintain a normal level of  tiredness so I decided to detox.

Yesterday I cut back to one coffee and it’s been over 24 hours without any caffeine.

The withdrawal symptoms are making it very hard to get my work done today, but I’m plugging on as the receptors in my brain learn to readjust from their caffeine fed state.

Caffeine detox isn’t as easy as one would think and I can definitely see the ties to addiction that caffeine possesses. There is also the little voice that keeps telling me to make a pot of coffee and all of this will go away.

However, I’m listening to the bigger voice telling me how great a cup of coffee will be at the end of my two week detox from caffeine.

Other Tips to Break Caffeine Addiction

HealthyEater.com has a great piece on weaning off of coffee. They believe going cold turkey is not a good idea and supplementing higher caffeine items with lower caffeine can really help. They suggest replacing a coffee with green tea.

Another thing to do is to take power naps during the detox. However that is not realistic for most of us. When was the last time your boss was happy with you taking a nap under your desk?

There are also some supplements that claim to help detox the body from caffeine, but we are researching those before we make any recommendations on that front.

Any other suggestions on how to do a caffeine detox?

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  • Nick

    It is really hard to go through Caffeine Detox, I tried to do it during the school year. On day 3 it was so bad, I could hardly handle my migraine when I was outside, the sun reflecting off the snow is like a laser pointer in the eye. The grocery store next to my school had Lost for 50 cents, it’s like a force was telling me to stop doing this to myself. I gave in :( probably a good thing at the time, I couldn’t pay attention in class. It’s amazing how fast a withdrawal headache goes away after having even a little caffeine.

  • Malky

    I went through a sort of accidental caffeine detox earlier this semester.

    I’m on my own for the first time, and trying to be somewhat healthy. So for about a month, I didn’t touch soda (and I don’t drink coffee).

    Then I split a two-liter of Coke with a friend, and couldn’t sleep. Just couldn’t sleep. I went from not feeling the effects of Coke AT ALL to an all-nighter from just a few cups.

    It’s a bizarre moment, when that happpens. I’m back on soda, but my tolerance is still low, so I really feel it more than I used to.

  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com ted

    I hear ya, 48hrs and my headache’s gone, yay! Now the task of staying awake at work today?

  • toxic_intruder

    i know, caffeine withdrawal is the worst… I tried a half year ago in school, after the first day i slept thru the whole school day, and stayed that way the next few days. After that i gave up and drank a couple cans of NOS. I’m trying again now, but gradual withdrawal is so much easier than cold turkey, going from 2 cans of ripit to one to a couple bottles of dew, etc.. makes it so much easier
    I doubt ill stay off, cuz itll help me stay awake anyways, atleast ill be in a real good mood when i get back on NOS next week
    so good luck to everyone tying o get off caffeine!

  • The Crowing

    I’m curious to see the results, or any updates at all. The longest I think I’ve gone (in my memory, which isn’t great) without caffeine is about 24 hours. That was a terrible day for me, I will say. Two weeks seems a little out there, but I hope you can get through it. Hell just thinking about it is giving me a headache.

  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com ted

    72 hours and counting, last night I was hungry and withdrawaling, it wasn’t a pretty picture for my friends…I was very edgy. Today’s a new day and hopefully I’ll feel better.

  • Evan

    I do miss the effects of caffeine with a low tolerance, but going through the withdrawal doesn’t seem worth it. Right now I need my half pot of coffee in the morning just to function normally in school, then I have another cup of coffee or some high caffeine soda later in the day. Maybe I’ll try to cut back over a break, so I don’t have the withdrawal symptoms on top of an extreme lack of sleep.

  • http://www.cloverwise.com/ocd Tim

    I’m in the same boat as Evan…the tweaked-out rush, pacing the floor, and talking really fast after drinking two RedLines is nothing but a fond memory now…but I wouldn’t want to go through the headaches and fatigue to get my tolerance back to baseline again. I do seem to have reached a plateau, however, where the amount I need to get the same effect hasn’t risen in a while.

  • Steve

    I’m currently on a caffeine fast, because I was at the point about a month ago where I could drink three Spikes and not feel much (aside from a little queasiness)

  • Dru

    Currently going though a caffeine fast, cause my dad’s in the hospital, and spending hours and hours and hours in a waiting room is boring and long enough without being hopped up on caffeine. Having lots and lots and lots of headaches and bitchiness. Been a week or so, so far.

  • Jake

    I think I may need to do a little caffeine fast myself.

    I signed up for a free trial of these energy mints called Foosh and I’m hooked on them. I used to start my day with a couple of coffees and usually an energy drink or 2 in the afternoon. Now, I eat about a pack of these day (and still start my day with a cup of coffee).

    The good news is I always have minty fresh breath and I’m not spending anywhere near as much money, but 800 mg of caffeine a day seems a little excessive.

    I must say though, I’m quite scared to try. I may have to wait till I’m through the tray I’m working on now, so the temptation isn’t so close at hand.

  • chris

    I’ve been forced to go on a caffeine detox.
    it wasn’t fun.
    and I wasn’t willing…
    my addiction to Monster (especially Import) got so bad, I went to the doctor.
    they said I’m consuming too much caffeine. (probably because they couldn’t find anything else wrong)
    so I trade pain in the stomach, for pain in the brain.
    …but I still sneak in an energy drink every other day or so.

  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com ted

    hey Chris….hang in there, you really should go at least two weeks to get your body back to normal, then you can have the occasional Monster… It will work awesome and you won’t get a withdrawal headache…..good luck!

  • jason

    I went from getting a rush off of 1 redbull to 1 monster to usually taking 2 monsters or a monster and a red rocket a day after reading rthat you can lower your tolerance I may try it but not wanting to feel the effects of withdrawl

  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com ted

    @jason- trust me it’s worth the couple days of feeling lousy… now I have caffeine on Mondays and Fridays and it really works! Great to have that feeling back again…

  • Austin

    Ehh my wrestling coach is making me detox over the break and ive been drinkin 2-3 Kroniks a monster and maybe a venom not including a bunch of sodas but i weigh 235 lbs. so it didnt really affect me too much so far been 3 days no caffiene just lemonade lol

  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com ted

    @ Austin, so is he making you detox because of all the Calories or because of the caffeine?

  • Brock

    I find the easiest time to do a caffeine detox is at the end of the school year. I drink 3-7 cups of coffee/energy drinks a day, clearly I’m hooked.

    But at the end of the spring semester, I find it very easy to completely cut out caffeine, within 2 weeks. As the need to be completely alert is no longer there, and neither is ridiculous 6AM to 2AM days of studying, work and rushing to finish last min assignments.

    I recommend cutting back within the first 2 days of your last final exam, while you’re making adjustments to summer schedule. This will allow for the drowsiness avoid being an issue, and for you to exercise to minimize the feeling. First cutting back to one cup a day, then dropping to one every 2-3 days the following week. I’ve gone from heavy reliance to no caffeine usage in 2 weeks. Withdrawl is noticeable the first few days, and less so after that, provided you allow for increased amounts of sleep to compensate for the lack of “awakeness”.

  • Mike

    I was up to drinking two 2L of Mountain Dew daily. I decided that 5 days ago I would stop. I have had the worst headache and neck ache since. The only thing that helps is to roll my shoulders forward and back. I gave in yesterday (day 4) and had a 20 oz bottle of my “go juice”. I really was to the point that I drank Dew right when I woke up, all through the day, and at bed time. I feel these headaches will never stop, and I may have to start drinking Dew again just to relieve the pain.

  • tickyul

    I do not think a 2 week caffeine fast is really necessary to maintain caffeine sensitivity. I do 2 caffeine fasts a month (2-3 days)and I remain very sensitive to caffeine. 2 Weeks???? Ugh, why make yourself miserable.

Last Modified: September 5, 2014