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Coming off caffeine


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Over the past couple years, I have become completely addicted to large quantities caffeine.   While that helped me do what I needed to do, it's now a problem, because it now seems to be contributing to anxiety, insomnia and high blood pressure.  So, I need to stop.  

But when I try to cut back, I end up with a headache and nausea bad enough that I'm incapacitated, and I'm not really in a position where I can push through that.  I need to be semi-functional right now.

Has anyone found a work around that let them come off caffeine without falling apart?

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Think of it like a steroid wean...tiny steps back. If you normally have a 2L of diet soda a day, then move to 1900mL/day for a week, then 1800mL. Also, increase your magnesium levels.

I got into bad habits also after dd’s cancer and other dd’s NICU stays....the magnesium for me was key to keeping the migraines away.

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I am not completely off caffeine, but at some point we started mixing our fair trade coffee with some high quality water process decaf slowly and upping the decaf over time.  A slow wean definitely helped.  It also helped having that warm cozy beverage to look forward to.  

Coincidentally, I use natural calm as a magnesium supplement.  

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When I had to wean off of caffeine, I started by figuring out how many mg I was consuming a day and switching cold turkey from dietary sources to the same amount in pill form (over the counter No Doz).

For me, I was drinking the diet coke both as a caffeine source, but also as a ritual to treat myself after making it through portions of my day. By disassociating the caffeine from the treat, I was able to start looking for other sources of comfort/reward while working to slowly lower my caffeine dependence.

Once I was ingesting my daily caffeine in the form of boring pills, like prairiewindmomma said I just treated it like weaning off of any other drug. I bought No Doz tablets (like these) so I was able to cut them into chunks to lower my dosage in small, precise increments. In that way I was able to avoid having any headaches during the process.

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My other advice, if you are needing completely off, is to drop your end of day caffeine first, then your mid day and cut back on your am caffeine last. You want your body’s adrenal system to gradually kick back in as you step off of the “gas pedal” you’ve been giving it with caffeine.

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20 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

Take to the point of bowel tolerance, fwiw, you may find you are really depleted and need more than the bottle recommends.

How would you do this?  Like start with the amount on the bottle, and then add a little bit more each day until there are problems?  

 

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7 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

My other advice, if you are needing completely off, is to drop your end of day caffeine first, then your mid day and cut back on your am caffeine last. You want your body’s adrenal system to gradually kick back in as you step off of the “gas pedal” you’ve been giving it with caffeine.

My guess is that at my appointment on Tuesday they're going to tell me I need to be completely off.  I start transitioning back to work on the following Monday, so I really need to fix the sleep thing.  

I've been pretty good about not drinking caffeine after about 2 p.m., so moving that back as I shift to water makes sense to me.  

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Yup. I went up by half pills (used a pill cutter). Some people say they feel sluggish after 400mg—that that’s their tolerance point—but I took 1200mg for a couple of weeks, then 800 for quite a while and my body needed it. I am still at 400 a day.
 

Fwiw, there are people who also pair this with l-theanine (me included) with seems to help with maintaining focus but also staying relaxed.

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What form does your caffeine usually take? I am a coffee addict. What I have done in the past is swap it out for tea (the extra caffeine teas) which still have some but less caffeine than coffee. I also drink hot chocolate if I need the hot and creamy texture of coffee.

Unfortunately, I work in a coffee shoo so it is so hard to not drink coffee.

Kelly

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1 hour ago, BaseballandHockey said:

My guess is that at my appointment on Tuesday they're going to tell me I need to be completely off.  I start transitioning back to work on the following Monday, so I really need to fix the sleep thing.  

I've been pretty good about not drinking caffeine after about 2 p.m., so moving that back as I shift to water makes sense to me.  

I think if you tell them that you're working on weaning yourself off, that they won't give you too much crap for it.  Most reasonable doctors do not want people to develop migraines and vomiting from going cold turkey on any medication.  

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You just have to reduce the amount you consume gradually.  Doing it all at once is a recipe for disaster.  I've done it by gradually adding a higher fraction of decaf beans to make my coffee.  It may take a few weeks, but it's painless.

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1 hour ago, Terabith said:

I think if you tell them that you're working on weaning yourself off, that they won't give you too much crap for it.  Most reasonable doctors do not want people to develop migraines and vomiting from going cold turkey on any medication.  

I'm not worried about the doctor.  Like I don't care if he gives me crap or whatever.  I just think that they are going to tell me to, and that they are actually right and I actually need to do this.  

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2 hours ago, SquirrellyMama said:

What form does your caffeine usually take? I am a coffee addict. What I have done in the past is swap it out for tea (the extra caffeine teas) which still have some but less caffeine than coffee. I also drink hot chocolate if I need the hot and creamy texture of coffee.

Unfortunately, I work in a coffee shoo so it is so hard to not drink coffee.

Kelly

I am a diet soda, or water with mio drops person. I don't actually really like the taste.  I like the cold, and the way the caffeine makes me feel, but taste wise I'd be happy with water, or maybe once in a while water with some decaf flavor of mio.

 

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I put my coffee into my Yeti insulated rambler or Kleen Kanteen insulated tumbler and sip throughout the day, better than downing cups and cups of coffee. I like my coffee warm so an insulated tumbler works better for me than an insulated mug.

I also drink my coffee black (no sugar, no milk) so it’s just hot strong coffee. Starbucks Frappuccino is definitely more tempting than plain coffee black. 
 

I had insomnia since I was born. Sleeping pills (prescription) did not work. Melatonin (store bought) doesn’t work. Hot chocolate before bed works somehow for me to get a good night sleep once I fall asleep.

My ex-colleagues had heart palpitations because my secretary and I made the office coffee very strong. Maybe you can dilute your coffee? 
 

I have gone without coffee when it was “safe” for me to sleepwalk (as in close friends are with me) or fall asleep on public transport. I find it better to cut down by diluting and by sipping instead of gulping my coffee. 
 

I have been drinking coffee since I was 5 years old. I am more tempted by Coca-Cola than coffee. 

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32 minutes ago, Spy Car said:

Have you considered "moderation?"

X amount of intake before Y hour of the day?

Why get crazy???

Bill 

 

 

 I am basically nonfunctional from anxiety and lack of sleep these days, and I have kids who need me to be able to do things like homeschool and put food on the table, and a job I need to start transitioning back to in ten days.  Plus, my kids have lost a sibling to heart disease, and seen both parents in the ER with cardiac symptoms in the past 2 months, and they are entirely freaked out, so getting my symptoms under control seems like a priority.  

I will see the doctor on Tuesday and they'll have all my test results then. Maybe I'm wrong and he won't tell me to cut back, but if he does, I feel like I need to listen. If i cut back gradually, and hit a point where I feel OK, then maybe I'll stop there, we'll see. 

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52 minutes ago, Patty Joanna said:

I "hearted" you upthread, not because I like that you have to do this, but because you are taking it on, and you mean business...lots of respect from me.

I used to drink 2 pots (like 16 cups) a day.  I cut back half and had an excruciating headache for a couple of days and then it calmed down.  A couple of weeks later, I cut THAT in half, and same thing re the headache.  Finally I just decided I was going to have a bad couple of days and not drink any coffee ever again because the repetitive weaning was AWFUL.

Now I have a very small cup every day, but only because I like it, not because of the caffeine--and because DH makes the most fantastic coffee.  But if he doesn't make it, I don't either, and it's to the point where it really is a treat, not a necessity.  

I tell you this in hopes of *encouraging* you--not to tell you that the way I did it is the right and only way, or that it will work for you.  I think you can do this! but it might look different for you than it did for me.  I also want to acknowledge that you have been through a lot in the past few years, and that makes a difference, too.  

 

And...just in case this info comes in handy...  A friend of mine was drinking 2-3 pots of coffee a day in his middle years.  It turns out that he was pretty much self-medicating for ADHD.  The "dose" had to increase over the years as he desensitized.  He got the adult ADHD diagnosis and the meds that he had to figure out how to use, but the coffee-need went away completely. You might stick that in your hip pocket as info that may or may not be helpful.  

In other times, I think I'd be able to push through headaches, but headaches and vomiting go hand in hand for me.  Both my kids are struggling with anxiety about people they love getting sick, for understandable reasons, and me throwing up freaks them out. I'd really like to avoid that.

I could have adult ADHD, but the caffeine thing seems pretty closely related to the fact that I've probably averaged 3 - 4 hours of sleep a day for the past 2 years.  

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24 minutes ago, BaseballandHockey said:

 I am basically nonfunctional from anxiety and lack of sleep these days, and I have kids who need me to be able to do things like homeschool and put food on the table, and a job I need to start transitioning back to in ten days.  Plus, my kids have lost a sibling to heart disease, and seen both parents in the ER with cardiac symptoms in the past 2 months, and they are entirely freaked out, so getting my symptoms under control seems like a priority.  

I will see the doctor on Tuesday and they'll have all my test results then. Maybe I'm wrong and he won't tell me to cut back, but if he does, I feel like I need to listen. If i cut back gradually, and hit a point where I feel OK, then maybe I'll stop there, we'll see. 

I'm really sorry to know how rough your life has been recently. And it is understandable (and smart) that you'd want to get negative effects of caffeine under control.

Going cold-turkey would likely mean 3-4 days of hell, with bad headaches, etc.

If you are going to "wean" perhaps you'd hit a sweet spot where the bad effects go away and the benefits remain?

You might find a daily limit that doesn't extend beyond the morning hours strikes a balance.

Either way, I wish you all my best moving forward.

Big virtual hug.

Bill

 

 

 

Edited by Spy Car
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7 hours ago, BaseballandHockey said:

I am a diet soda, or water with mio drops person. I don't actually really like the taste.  I like the cold, and the way the caffeine makes me feel, but taste wise I'd be happy with water, or maybe once in a while water with some decaf flavor of mio.

 

I am confused: are you over caffeinated from diet soda? I am not familiar with mio drops.

I was drinking a lot of coffee due to my job that required me to work long hours and I depend on caffeine for focus and energy. But it also gave me anxiety and palpitations and I had to wean off to avoid more complications. if you are a coffee drinker, cut out 50% of your caffeine in the first week. There are 2 ways to do this: dilute your coffee powder with 50% decaf coffee powder or drink only half the quantity of coffee as before. Once I got used to this dosage, it was much easier to reduce it to 25% of my old intake. Now I drink only 2 cups of coffee and stop before 3:30 pm. I also increased my exercise amounts when I cut back on caffeine and my energy levels went up without dependence on coffee.

I am very sorry about how hard your life has been. My anxiety lowered when my coffee intake fell. 

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11 hours ago, mathnerd said:

I am confused: are you over caffeinated from diet soda? I am not familiar with mio drops.

I was drinking a lot of coffee due to my job that required me to work long hours and I depend on caffeine for focus and energy. But it also gave me anxiety and palpitations and I had to wean off to avoid more complications. if you are a coffee drinker, cut out 50% of your caffeine in the first week. There are 2 ways to do this: dilute your coffee powder with 50% decaf coffee powder or drink only half the quantity of coffee as before. Once I got used to this dosage, it was much easier to reduce it to 25% of my old intake. Now I drink only 2 cups of coffee and stop before 3:30 pm. I also increased my exercise amounts when I cut back on caffeine and my energy levels went up without dependence on coffee.

I am very sorry about how hard your life has been. My anxiety lowered when my coffee intake fell. 

I don't drink hot beverages really ever, and while I will very occasionally have an iced tea, I don't like iced coffee. 99% of my caffeine comes from either diet soda, or those drops you put in water.  

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