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 dependence 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

1. The Weaning Method (Recommended)

wean caffeine

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

This can be approximated by hand, or done precisely with a product like the Wean Caffeine detox kit.

We recommend stepping down the dose about 10-30 mg less every three days until a zero daily caffeine amount is achieved. This can be accomplished by just drinking a little less of your typical caffeinated beverage but with Wean Caffeine it is a much more precise and systematic process.

Practical Examples:

  • Coffee should be reduced by a 1/4 of a cup every two to three days. (This is difficult if you don’t make coffee at home.)
  • Energy Drinks can be reduced by about 1/4 a can every two to three days.
  • Soda can be reduced by cutting back a 1/2 a can every two to three days or by a 1/4 a bottle if drinking a 16 fl oz size.
  • Tea can be reduced by cutting back 1/2 cup every two to three days.

Pros:

  • Withdrawal symptoms are much less severe or can be completely avoided.
  • 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.

2. The Cold Turkey Method

With this method, a person simply ceases to consume caffeine all at once. While this can be the fastest way to detox, it does come with a price and a huge shock to your system.

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 or even weeks if the addiction was severe.
  • Can lead to a loss of productivity.
  • Invokes more of a tendency to give up because of how horrible it makes people feel.

My first four weeks of quitting cold turkey were terrible. I was at the doctor’s each of the first four weeks because I thought I was sick. I knew caffeine withdrawal was a thing but not like this!!

-Chris M.

Prepare in advance for the cold turkey method!

If you choose the cold turkey method, it’s important that you know what to expect and prepare in advance for the debilitating withdrawal symptoms that can follow.

  1. Plan ahead so that the first couple days of detox fall on a weekend or work holiday.
  2. Have pain relievers on hand and avoid driving.
  3. Have plenty of food on hand to avoid the need to drive anywhere for food.
  4. Prepare some meals in advance like soup or other easy to digest foods.
  5. Talk with family members about what you are about to do, what they can expect, and how they can help.
  6. Inform your co-workers and/or your boss about your caffeine detox.

The method of preparation is relative to the amount of caffeine you had been consuming. Those who had been consuming large amounts of caffeine should prepare more than those detoxing from smaller daily amounts.

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.

See Also: Our Guide to Understanding Caffeine.

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? 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 needed to return to the time before I had such a tolerance for 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 new sense of normal so I decided to detox.

Yesterday I cut back to one coffee and it’s now 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 month 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?

If you want to reduce your caffeine intake (or quit entirely), please download our book Awake (it's free).

For best results use the Wean Caffeine supplement (something we helped get to market). It helps you avoid the withdrawal symptoms that often come when reducing caffeine.

Written by Ted Kallmyer, last updated on December 5, 2018