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 expertly with an inexpensive product like the Wean Caffeine detox kit.

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

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. 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 to 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?

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 with the detox process. One such supplement is L-theanine which is included in Wean Caffeine mentioned above.

Any other suggestions on how to do a caffeine detox?

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  • Caffeine Ninja

    Hey guys, just so you know….there’s already a product that removes caffeine from your body. It’s sold on amazon and a few websites….called Rutacleanse and Rutaesomn. Pretty sure it’s made by a company in the usa

  • gorak

    cool story bro.

  • sampson

    thats awesome! keep it up, any update on this?

  • Tony

    I realized I was drinking to much coffee when after 2 pots throughout the day i absolutely could not keep my eyes open past 6 P.M. I decided I needed to detox and wein myself off to lower my cravings. Today is day four of my “journey”, and I have been experiencing: migranes, lethargy, mood swings, flu-like muscle aches, and the munchies. Not sure if the last one is actually a symptom or just my need to have my mouth stimulated (lol). I began drinking more coffee as a weight loss tactic. It worked, i ended up loosing 25 lbs by limiting what i ate, but now I’m paying for it. I’ve been weining with black tea, but it defenitly doesn’t have the same kick as coffee. My goal is two weeks without coffee, wish me luck!

  • Ted

    Hang in there Tony! It is no fun, that’s for sure. After two weeks will you start drinking it again?

  • Guest

    TLDR

  • I agree with HealthyEater.com that weaning is usually better than going cold-turkey. I used to work in a bar and some of my colleagues were drinking 2 Monsters (the full-powered green ones) a day. Beating caffeine tolerance and dependency is why I developed the 5 Levels of Fatigue. Basically Level 1 is fatigue from boredom/dehydration, Level 5 is “Zombie Land” where no amt of caffeine will save you, and all the levels in between match with certain amts of caffeine and other factors (carbonated or not, juice content, tea-based etc). Using the 5 Levels, I helped them understand what products to get when and weaned 2 colleagues down to 1 Monster (Rehab) or a 80mg caffeine V8 every OTHER day. This system works! Google “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely” GreenEyedGuide.com/about/

  • Maxx Performance

    good article! We always preach, be careful with caffeine. Use in moderation!

  • Elizabeth Kelly

    It feels like withdraw is longer than 3 days for me. I’m on day 6 and still really lethargic and cloudy headed. But I’m sleeping really well, just too much and not able to focus on assignments.

  • Ted

    The worst symptoms are usually over after 3 days and this also greatly depends on your level of use. People that had been at the 600mg or more per day level could experience withdrawal for around two weeks. Hang in there, you’re almost home-free .

  • Elizabeth Kelly

    Thanks Ted! I’m actually feeling a lot better today and only took one nap! Its great have a stable energy level.

  • Ryan

    I’ve been drinking 2+ 20 oz Mountain Dews a day for a couple years since my second child was born. I end up waking with them a lot in the night since my wife cannot breast feed and is the one working full time, and I’ve been a student finishing up my degree. I recently had my first physical in years, and even though I am maybe 20+ pounds overweight, I am per-diabetic with my sugar intake. At this point, because of cost, I’ve dropped it down to 1 20oz a day most days, but this is my second day off of caffeine as I figure going cold turkey may be best, and I’m not a huge fan of diet pop. Also the cost thing again.

    my main problem has been headaches and extreme irritability, combined with depression, as I suffer with depression already and this certainly isn’t helping. I’m hoping this doesn’t last too long. I don’t like being impatient with my sweet little boys. I have three now: one is 4 1/2, one is 2 1/2, and one is 4 months.

  • Ted

    I bet that’s rough going through caffeine withdrawal while trying to take care of children. I remember back when I was a teacher how irritable I was if I didn’t have my caffeine and was never proud of the way I would interact with my students during those time. Hang in there and I think you are making a healthy choice for your body and wallet.

  • techomaniac

    I have to agree. I have ADD and I just can’t think without caffeine. I have gone off caffeine for 3 months so I know it’s not withdrawal symptoms. If caffeine makes me feel normal in moderate doses, I figure, why not? Plus I stop drinking any caffeine 8 hours before I go to bed, so it doesn’t effect my sleep.

  • roger

    i love mountain dew i don’t think i can break away from that.

  • kdjgy

    Try flavoured sparkling water as a sub for energy drinks. It tricks your taste buds into thinking your drinking energy drinks

  • meli

    Sorry, you are taking caffeine pills throughout the day to detox from caffeine? Not sure I understand? 😉

  • Ted

    I think he meant he was using caffeine pills to gradually step down his daily caffeine dose. He’s right, Pilots shouldn’t quit cold turkey, very unsafe.

  • Seth Garrett

    Before I discovered caffeine-informer I drank a whole bottle of MIOENERGY everyday which has 1060 mg. of caffeine I decided that I not just wanted to quit after 2 months of drinking 1060 mg. of caffeine I frankly had to, summer was ending I was shortly starting school so I started researching how to quit caffeine I found that caffeine-informer became my best friend because it taught me how to detox without harmful side effects like constipation lack of sleep gaining weight vomiting and horrible headaches.

    THANK YOU!!! To the creator of CAFFEINEINFORMER

  • Robin428

    Third day without coffee. I used to need an IV pretty much but was down to 2 cups in the morning (12 oz) and oneness the evening. I have never had a day without coffee in the last 45 years. Worst then the headache for me is lower back pain to the point of not being able to function well. Luckily for me I am retired so my low functioning brain is ok.

Last Modified: November 10, 2017