Caffeine Dependence and Coffee Addiction

It’s time to touch upon a subject painful for many coffee lovers. In fact that applies either to caffeine dependence or coffee addiction, which are both developed as a result of abnormal coffee drinking.

What is caffeine dependence

Although caffeine dependence is not a pathology, the American Psychiatric Association defines it as ICD-10 diagnosis accompanied by unhealthy physiological symptoms. According to the APA, caffeine addiction is consumption of coffee (caffeine) by individual despite the fact that it entails health problems and provokes various side effects.

Although the term "caffeine dependence" is used very broadly and caffeine is called psychoactive drug, we can’t claim that this kind of a relationship fully reflects the meaning of the term "addiction".

For so-called caffeine dependence the symptoms inherent in alcohol and drug dependence are not typical. Moreover, there is no sufficient scientific proof to argue. For alcohol and drug dependence a “cold turkey” is a characteristic "break-up" symptom while if you stop consuming caffeine, it won’t lead to “significant consequences”.

What is caffeine withdrawal?

At the same time, we should single out such a phenomenon as "caffeine withdrawal" (aka physical dependence) which has quite distinct symptoms (see below).

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University revealed that development of withdrawal symptoms may occur even due to moderate coffee consumption. The studies have been carried out over the past two centuries, and as a result scientists have identified withdrawal symptoms of varying severity, from simple mood changes and headaches to chill. In fact, these symptoms are considered to be the symptoms of caffeine addiction.

Caffeine tolerance entails dependence

Along with caffeine withdrawal it makes sense to touch upon body's tolerance to caffeine. Tolerance is partial or complete loss of sensitivity to a substance consumption, in our case this is caffeine. This tolerance develops due to uncontrolled caffeine consumed  in sufficiently high doses.

According to Johns Hopkins University, complete tolerance to coffee comes owing to the regular intake of 700-1200 mg caffeine per day. As a result, the brain starts to perceive it as a normal dose; in other words, coffee brings about tolerance. For the subsequent feeling of the caffeine effects another large dose is needed, while suspension  leads to the familiar symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. In its turn, tolerance leads to caffeine dependence.

The main symptoms of caffeine addiction

As it’s already been mentioned, all the symptoms of caffeine addiction are similar to physical dependence, i.e., caffeine withdrawal. Here is the following caffeine addiction symptoms:

  • Headache – throbbing and severe, depending on the individual level of coffee (caffeine) addiction.
  • Chronic fatigue, lethargy, sluggishness.
  • Slow response, drowsiness.
  • Muzzy brain  effect – concentration difficulties, confusion.
  • Decreased productivity  – slow performance, apathy, lack of motivation.
  • Irritability, anxiety – decrease in satisfaction, mood swings, depression.
  • Symptoms of a common cold – eg, nausea, muscle cramps, cold in the extremities, fever.

In fact, the main problem of coffee addiction is worsening of the negative effects of caffeine. Since a caffeine dependent person ceases to feel the brink adequately, uncontrolled caffeine intake develops all of the coffee addiction symptoms listed above.

3 tips for caffeine addiction treatment

Getting rid of caffeine dependence comes very fast, as in the medical sense there is no such thing, rather it is caffeine withdrawal. Fortunately, you do not need to go to the hospital and get your (or another person addicted to caffeine) hands tied to a hospital bed.

Withdrawal from coffee can last for a few weeks. We will share a few tips to avoid unpleasant coffee addiction symptoms.

1. Don’t make “sudden movements”

If you had drunk coffee for a long time on a regular basis (one or more cups a day) and then decided to limit caffeine intake, don’t do it too quickly. Very soon the body will find a trick and require the usual dose, depending on what the average amount of caffeine intake was.

For effective caffeine addiction treatment we recommend you to draw a plan to fight addiction to caffeine within a month. Every week gradually reduce the amount of caffeine (25% -> 50% -> 75% -> 100%) till it reaches zero.

2. Want to drink coffee? Replace it with water

Not always the quitting  caffeine will be held as planned. Unfortunately, there may be setbacks. In order to avoid rolling back to the coffee addiction state, try to drink water at the  moment you are haunted by the thought of a cup of coffee.

3. Dekaf is a safe and healthy drink to replace caffeine

Don’t think that we are engaged in decaf advertising on CHE, but it is a really useful drink safe for people who aren’t allowed coffee because of the high caffeine sensitivity or contraindications and would like to avoid signs of caffeine addiction.

Decaf coffee is a good choice as there is almost no caffeine (more precisely, it contains no more than 5% of latter), while the rich aroma of "real" coffee is fully preserved.

Summary. Caffeine dependence is an unpleasant phenomenon, which is desirable to avoid. Although it can not be classified as life-threatening, you should always control the volume of caffeine in coffee. Despite coffee drinking pleasure, uncontrolled drinking leads to unpleasant caffeine addiction symptoms.

In any case, remember that reasonable amounts of good coffee is a proven source of a million positive things. Stay tuned and read articles about the health benefits of coffee!