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I have quit drinking coffee many times, and it was never that difficult for me to do, but can never stay quit for more than about 3 or 4 weeks.

I typically drink 3, homebrewed cups a day, and only put a small amount of half & half in it.

I've been drinking coffee for over 10 years.

My main problem here is that I don't feel quite right after I quit. This feeling does not seem to go away, so I always start again.

How can I stay off coffee after I quit? And would I ever normalize, if so, how many weeks might it take?

  • 1
    Do you think this is caffeine addiction (as implied by your caffeine tag), or something else about coffee (e.g., the smell, other stimulants in coffee, the experience of drinking it)? What is your motivation for quitting coffee (e.g., financial, logistical, health)? Answers to those will yield better resources and answers to your situation. Welcome to Coffee, albeit for a different reason than most of the rest of us. :) – hoc_age Jun 29 '15 at 13:53
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    Yes, I am thoroughly convinced that I am having chemical induced problems here. The caffeine has to be the main culprit. I want to quit because I can't function without it. I do technical work all day long and can't think as well when I'm coming down. Its especially bad that the coffee wears off after I eat food too. – Gunn Jun 29 '15 at 14:34
  • If you believe you have a medical condition why wouldn't you consult a doctor? – daniel Jul 19 '15 at 9:57
  • I actually just got some great beans from Africa and have been rolling in coffee bliss. But yeah, consulting a doctor might be the best answer. Thanks. – Gunn Jul 19 '15 at 16:40
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I kicked it by switching to caffeine pills so that I could carefully taper down. Before I started the process, though, I went to caffeineinformer to get a good estimate of my daily habit. I then used caffeine pills to replace the milligrams of caffeine I was having as coffee. From there, I began to cut the pills into quarters and slowly reduce my intake over the course of several months. Each Saturday I would step down by one quarter of a pill. Withdrawal was minimal and by Monday I was back able to work. It took discipline and patience.

One unintended, but huge benefit that I found by going this route is that I disassociated the buzz with the ritual and smell of coffee. It became clinical for me. Plus it was quite easy to control when I took my caffeine. I no longer had to make or find coffee to get my fix.

  • Insight into what your "triggers" are for coffee consumption (or other addictive behavior) is an important step. Good to know it worked out for you (credit your discipline and patience). – hardmath Aug 20 '15 at 3:51
  • Seems there is now a product called Wean that tries to take the hesitation and calculation out of it. Pre-rationed and scheduled doses. I have not tried it, and there is some markup, but it’s worth it to me to finally take the leap by pressing a button and putting a bit of sunk cost commitment on it. (Beeminder style.) I’ll try to remember to report back here on how it went – driftcatcher Jul 7 at 18:37
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Carefully keep track of your coffee consumption with a log / journal, and plan out a long-term (a few months) schedule to gradually phase out your consumption amount. In addition to how much you drink each day and how many times, you should also record any observations on technical capabilities and mood depressions, so that you get a feel for how much faster or slower you should reduce the consumption.

Also, when you make coffee for yourself, start making coffee the opposite of your taste. You drink an instant mix with half & half added, right? You like it sweet? Make it black. Don't add half & half. Add stuff that you hate, maybe cinnamon. You will still get the caffeine kick, but your body will slowly begin to adjust.

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Couple of Ideas:

You could switch back and forth between caffeinated and decaffeinated until a day on the decaf seems bearable.

You could mix the two, with a larger proportion of decaf over time.

You could switch to/rotate in another form of caffeine. (Pills (not recommended unless you have a fairly large caffeine intake, then you may want to look into it), or teas.

Some people I know do report benefits of caffeine pills, saying they get the kick without a harsh come-down like more natural sources of caffeine.

3

Your story sounds very familiar. I used to make several home make double-cappuccinos with my machine everyday. Then I'd miss a day and be in pain. My head pounding. I was in distress.

I have tired to quit drinking several times, however, I found I really love the taste and could not. That was my drink of choice.

What I have done is to lower my intake. I didn't do it the way RJC said, but logging how much you drink is a great idea. Start limiting your intake. Don't go from six cups a day to one cup in two weeks. You built up your tolerance (and need) for caffeine over a long period. If you don't want any lingering effects, you'll need to do the same when you cut down. My suggestion is to cut down one cup per month. Get your body and mind used to the new amount.

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You could always switch to Redbull...

Well in all seriousness, here are a couple of tips you might want to try.

First I want to start with a question. Why do you not want to drink it anymore? If you start drinking it black and make it yourself, it can be cheap and healthy. And you can still get through your day.

Second, try drinking it black. If you're like most people, you probably add half coffee and half creamer, then a bunch of sugar/sweetener. Just drink it black. You might find yourself making/drinking it less.

Third and final tip. Have someone that lives in the same place as you hold you accountable. Get rid of all the coffee. Have a little more will power. I know it's "not that easy", but I was able to quick drinking it for a while.

This info is "reliable" due to the fact that I drank coffee for years and then gave it up for about 4 months for a challenge.

Let me know how it goes. And if there are any tips to add, please do.

  • I want to quit because its ridiculous to have to keep drinking just to be able to work or talk about technical issues. If I didn't have to drink the stuff it would be a lot smoother of a day, and I'd feel better about myself. I drink instant Coffee Robusta, with just a tad bit of half & half in it, that's it. My problem is the mass depression that sets in every time I quit. Does it ever go away?? Maybe I'm just really sensitive to caffeine... – Gunn Jun 29 '15 at 16:12
  • @Gunn it will go away, but it will take time. I drank a lot of water during my time without coffee. I understand what you're going through. I never had instant coffee though as I don't think it's real coffee. At all. So the chemicals could be different from what I've always drank. – NealC Jun 29 '15 at 16:14
  • I've looked it up, instant coffee has Coffee Robusta beans in it and drip has Coffee Arabica beans in it. The robusta beans are more bold in taste and have more caffeine in them. – Gunn Jun 29 '15 at 16:16
  • Interesting. I guess straight will power and accountability is important. – NealC Jun 29 '15 at 16:42
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I will suggest to eat dark chocolate, no less than 72% (90% will make sense, bring up to speed), I was addicted too but with this method I did started to slow down with coffee. I tried switch with tea and was not working so good. Try also to chai tea (has caffeine too). Other thing is DO NOT start the morning right the way with the coffee, just wait for at least 1 hour and also need to find out timing when you really need coffee. this way I switched from 1/2 gallon a day of coffee to simple cup (craving a lot of fruits during the time spending on computer). Also try to not use other products containing caffeine(soda). And keep hydrated as much possible (H2O).

Is more to add but the most important i did listed. P.S. I also spend a lot of time at computer (School & Work).

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I would recommend you try quitting in the same manner people who smoke quit. Taper down. Cold turkey sounds awesome, but the reality is that it hurts. Caffeine is a physical addiction and the withdrawal symptoms can be ugly (headaches, fatigue, etc.)

You may want to start by figuring out how much coffee you consume and make a plan to cut back. I thought about quitting at one point, but realized I was just drinking far too much coffee (6+ cups a day). I've found that a cup in the morning and a cup in the early afternoon is a tolerable addiction for me.

As far as returning to "normal". It is possible, but will likely take time. Keep in mind, that by normal you mean not under the effects of a psychoactive drug. You will be getting rid of caffeine addiction's side effects as well as it's benefits.

  • The point you bring up about coffee being psychoactive is dead on, the stuff is wicked. I read in this article that some people are actually more naturally predisposed to experience psychoactive experiences while on stimulants than others. This is true from what I can tell. – Gunn Jun 29 '15 at 19:34
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There's only one real reason to quit coffee: YOU'RE DYING.

Jokes apart.

Method 1:

  • Grab 3 days of medical leave.

NOTE: No driving for these 3 days. Have painkillers, only and only if the pain gets out of hand. Those things have side effects.

  • Have people around you so that you can get medical help ASAP.
  • Stop. Just stop. Reflect on your health conditions.
  • Deal with the withdrawal symptoms.
  • SUCCESS!

Method 2:

  • Reduce the amount of your coffee by 60mg or so every day.
  • Weaker withdrawal symptoms but still watch out. Get someone else to drive, preferably.
  • Just before you reach the caffeine amount of 0, continue the minimal amount that for 2 or 3 days right until to hit the brake forever.

Note: I never thought I might have said this but have decaf for visual pleasure.

  • SUCCESS!
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Coffee is tough to quit because like other addictions, it leads to side-effects (e.g. splitting headaches). There are two main ways to quit:

The Weaning Method

Gradually reduce the amount of caffeine you take in a day. Not just coffee, but soda, energy drinks and tea as well.

Pros:

  • Withdrawal symptoms are much less severe.
  • Most people can continue to function and be productive.
  • Mild to no caffeine headache to deal with.

Cons:

  • Can take longer to quit

The Cold Turkey Method

This is the obvious method that most people will suggest. Quit altogether until the withdrawal symptoms stop.

Pros:

  • Can quit much quicker

Cons:

  • More severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Difficult to function and be productive
  • The headaches are brutal

If you are trying this method, make sure you let your coworkers and family know beforehand so they are prepared for increased irritability and so they can help. Also, drink lots of water and stay hydrated to decrease the chance of getting headaches. You can always drink decaf for the pleasure of drinking coffee.

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