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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  • Ted

    Seth, thanks so much for sharing this and we are thrilled that we helped you. It makes all the hours we put in on this website worth it.

    Your story goes to show that caffeine consumption can sneak up on you until you are consuming unsafe amounts. Glad you were able to break free successfully. Great job!

  • Crenshaw

    I got diabetes my 18th year of military service, but was fortunate to get it under control with diet and exercise in a few months and retired on flight status 3 years later. It came back with a vengeance 6 months after I retired (pancreas failed to produce insulin) and I’ve been on insulin now for 21 years as a Type 1 diabetic.
    Two weeks ago, I decided to ween off of caffeine in a few days, and then stop entirely. My problem was these constant spikes in blood sugar readings, and very high blood pressure spikes whenever I would have regular coffee. I would drink 6-10 cups per day, and sometimes right before bed. I was battling the blood sugar spikes by increasing the insulin doses, which is not the path to longevity.
    Having been off of caffeine for about 10 days, the terrible blood sugar spikes (300-500) are down by 40%, and my head doesn’t pound from blood pressure increases. I think that quitting caffeine is one of the best things a person can do for themselves.
    Thank you for your website. Well done and most informative.

  • Ted

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us and I’m glad we could help! Also nice to hear you are doing better.

  • Darla

    I sometimes have horrible headaches when I go without caffeine. Vomiting, sweating, tremors….as if I am detoxing off of heroin or something. I decided to start weening myself down. Mine came from taking Excedrin two tablets daily that helps with back pain, etc. I am glad I found this website.

  • Ted

    Hi Darla, Glad we could help! It’s amazing how easily we can become addicted to caffeine.

  • Jacinta Arevalo-Perez

    I just started getting myself used to not having caffeine and I have not felt so awful before. I’ve been a regular caffeine intaker and upon quitting felt no fun at all.

  • Jan

    I decided to detox from caffeine cold turkey a week ago, and, oh, how I wish I’d done a gradual detox. I’m now on day 6 of a headache and don’t have the energy to move from my bed. However, this far in, I refuse to give up.

  • Ted

    Hang in there, you are probably through the worst of it. How much caffeine were you consuming each day?

  • Ted

    Have you considered using the gradual detox method outlined above?

  • Amber

    I’m not sure if I actually am addicted… I’m only 16 (nearing on 17) I can’t be addicted! I just really really like tea! I feel better if I have a morning but I have one everyday so I’m not sure if it’s because I’m addicted or just really like tea… If I don’t have one I get a real craving for one! :/

  • Ted

    A tea a day, whether this would be called an addiction or not, is fine. If you had to have many cups a day and couldn’t function without it, then you should be concerned. Just keep you tea consumption in moderation.

  • Kay

    I have had crippling bachache and stomach pains. I assumed it was unrelated to my giving up coffee. I have been drinking tea instead. But I was a big user 6-7 mugs a day. Could this be withdrawal? I have just had 4 cups today and my symptoms are almost gone.

  • Jordan

    Almost definitely withdrawal

  • Ted

    Sounds like caffeine withdrawal to me, since tea has significantly less caffeine than coffee.

  • Sherry Smith

    I need help. I have a serious problem with caffeine. If i sleep more then 4 hours i wake up with a severe headache only relieved by caffeine. In an average day i consume about 2500 mg of caffeine. I only sleep about 30 hours a week. I don’t feel wired or even energized. I know I can’t quit cold turkey I’ve tried cutting back but I feel like crap. In time will I feel better without caffeine then I do with it

  • Ted

    Yes, You can get back to a normal state without caffeine. I would recommend cutting back gradually by about 50-100mg daily in your case. After about a month you should be in a good spot with minimal withdrawal. I recently completed a gradual detox and besides being a little tired, I feel good.

  • Robyn

    I have strong emotional feelings to coffee and am not sure if I can give it up. The thought of it makes me feel very lonely for some reason. I wouldn’t quit forever but need to cut back and make it more an occasional treat then an everyday/all day thing.

  • maheri

    I also have an addiction to coffee. I drink 4-5 cuos a day. I have headaches without coffee. I think i might have kidney or bladder ploblems now. Sometimes it is difficult to pass urine and when i do it smells like coffee. Please help. Am i going to die?

  • Ted

    You really should have your kidney issues looked at by a doctor. As for the coffee, I would recommend cutting back by 1/2 a cup a day until you can go without.

  • Ted

    That’s my new philosophy as well. After my recent detox, I plan to only have coffee in a social setting or as an occasional treat when I really need some extra alertness.

Last Modified: November 10, 2017