Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Caffeine Withdrawal

It's day three with no caffeine and I'm ready to jump out the window! My headache is the size of New York City and I'm on my very - last - nerve!

Why am I torturing myself like this? Believe me, I've asked myself that question numerous times in the last 3 days. Truth is, my doctor said I consume way too much caffeine on a daily basis and it could be the cause, or at least a contributing factor, to my inability to fall asleep, stay asleep and/or wake up rested.  Since I am desperate for sleep, I stopped caffeine cold turkey and pray this gawd awful withdrawal will be over soon.

And I don't even drink coffee!  It goes back to my first job at age 15 when I was a waitress in our local coffee shop. Every Saturday morning at 5AM, my job was to empty last night's vat of stinky coffee grounds and make a fresh urn of java.  The smell was disgusting!  That did it for me, I couldn't stand it.  No coffee for this little girl, not ever. Seriously, I can't even eat Coffee Ice Cream and I LOVE ice cream.

No, my caffeine of choice was ice cold Coca-Cola.  I started with "regular" Coke, loaded with sugar and caffeine.  Later, with age and maturity (translation: middle-age spread) I switched to Diet Coke but kept all the caffeine. Throw in about a gallon of good old Lipton Ice Tea each day plus every piece of chocolate I can get my hands on, and well, I was in blissful caffeine overload.

Which brings me back to quitting cold turkey.  Oh how I miss the sound of the Coke can snapping open and the burn of the Coke as it drains down my throat before I've even had my morning shower.  How I long to chug a glass of ice tea in three giant gulps then pile more ice into the glass and start all over again.

Did I mention my head hurts?

How much longer will it take to "cleanse" my system and feel some relief?  At day three, I'm not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel any time soon! 

To try to move things along, I Googled "caffeine withdrawal" to find some solutions.  Big mistake!  All that did was scare the daylights out of me.  Who knew this "mood altering drug" could be so damaging?  It left me thinking Coke should come with a warning label like cigarettes. 

My next thought was to swing by the pharmacy for a "patch" like the ones smokers use to kick the habit.  No luck.  Apparently caffeine is not addictive enough to warrant one. Damn.

Do you think inhaling the wonderful smell of an open bag of Scharffen Berger cocoa powder counts as "falling off the wagon"?  I've done that three times already today and it's only noon.  Jeez, it smells good, but not good enough to kill this headache. 

Without question, I have a new found respect for anyone committed to the "cold turkey" approach to stop sugar, carbs, chocolate, whatever.  I can only imagine the strength needed to stop smoking, alcohol, drugs or the likes.  I'm not sure I have it in me.

So with 74 hours "clean", I'm not feeling all that much better but I'm hoping a "new caffeine-free me" is just around the corner-- So I can take a nap and actually sleep-- which is the point for all this torture!  Ahhh a girl can dream.  

Have you had to kick a bad habit cold turkey?  If so, I feel your pain. 
Welcome to The Fifty Factor  -  Joanna


  1. I cut out the coffee, too. Big headache. I love Cokes, too. I went without for 6 weeks. I've added back sugar free 7up and SF root beer just to have something besides water. Good luck with the headches! Let's hope they don't last too much longer.

  2. You poor thing! I hope you get past this quickly.I don't like coffee and rarely drink coke so don't have this problem. I could stand to cut out sugar though!
    PS - I'm doing the story you tagged me for tomorrow. It will be on my main blog - My little corner. I found out its really hard to get some blog names in a story!

  3. I've gone cold turkey off of Coke more times than you could imagine. It is like any other addiction--I let myself have just one a week, and next thing you know, I'm plugging my last nickels into the machine at work.

    On the other hand, as a child I watched my mom go cold turkey on coffee and cigarettes everytime we visited Grandma. That is one period of my life I hope never to revisit. [shiverrr]

  4. I don't think I'm addicted to coffee although I do enjoy a cup and a half every morning. If I drink soda, I drink Coke zero. Does that count for caffeine? I'm sure it does.

    I'm so sorry that you have to kick the habit. Maybe you can get a coffee fragrance candle and sniff in the fragrance as you hold a coffee cup to your mouth????

  5. I have had more Diet Coke in the past week, than in my entire life. That's what happens when you start working the swing shift.

  6. I tried quitting smoking cold turkey but only lasted 3 days. Then I used the patch and that worked for me. Sorry you're having such bad withdrawls! If I may make a suggestion, if you're not already, make sure to drink a lot of water, that will help cleanse you out a little faster. I hope it eases soon!

  7. Oh Girl! I can't even imagine. I drink Diet Coke like it's going out of style and like you, the lipton ice tea between each can. I hate coffee as well and have to spit out the jelly belly coffee flavored beans. Coffee tastes like poisonous earth.

    I have been sleeping much better since I started the progesterone cream. I am going to send some up to you. Pop open a cold one and email me your address. HELP IS ON IT"S WAY!!!!

  8. coke and pepsi are my favourite drinks. Here in Canada we have caffeine free diet coke in a goldish coloured can. good luck with the withdrawal symptoms.

  9. Oh gal, I appreciate the agony. I once got a caffeine-withdrawal headache when I ran out of coffee. My head hurt so bad I wanted to bang it on the wall! I couln't even see straight.

    Can't you taper off the caffeine?
    Like water your tea down to half-strength and then quarter-strength.
    It seems like a much more humane way to ween your system off of it.

  10. Hope you feel better real soon!!! I am not a coffee drinker but I do drink coke (fountain coke with ice) and Dr Pepper but I have no problem going to sleep.

  11. Last time I tried to stop drinking my one and only drink (Diet Coke) I nearly died of dehydration... and lets not even mention the 6 WEEKS of having a migraine! I started again before I died!
    I wish you well on your withdrawal.

  12. Hearing your symptoms makes me glad I
    quit my diet coke addiction in the early years. Actually I didn´t quit voluntarily. We moved to Paraguay and back then they didn´t have diet coke here. So I had to quit.... But I do love my coffee. I´m not addicted though. I only have one cup in the morning.
    I agree with your commenter Sandi. I think the cause of your sleepless nights is from other reasons and you should try the cream she wants to send you!

  13. Good for you!!! But glad I'm not living within a mile of ya (let alone several states away!).

    I have to have my two, ONLY TWO, cups of coffee in the a.m. (did I mention the "cup" is the size of a mini-thermos??). I don't go for that perfumed, latte datte stuff; straight, strong coffee with just enough MILK (not cream) to change the color.

    YOU CAN DO IT!!!

  14. The caffeine withdrawal headache sounds a lot like the carb headache I got when I did the Adkins diet. UGH!!! That was 3 days of hell.

    I also quit smoking cold turkey, 17 years 5 months,1 week and 2 days ago (but who's counting?)

    Good luck!

  15. Joanna,
    Two clean weeks should do it. The headaches are for 'withdrawl'. I've gone through it, and it's no fun - I have a 'splenda' artifical sweetener fix I should stop using !!!
    You are very much doing the right thing, but my empathy for the process !

  16. I think excedrin has caffeine? So if you pop one you get a little medicine and caffeine all in one dose :-)

  17. Oh, and I dropped our "Where in Ohio?" conversation--sorry! I, too, grew up in NE Ohio, smack in the middle of Geauga county. But no, I'm not Amish. :) In fact, Dad was born & raised in Queens, NY.

  18. Luckily, I've never had to give up anything cold turkey, but God knows I should be in a 12-step program for ice cream, dark beer, and sleazy $7.99 Ross Dress-for-Less blouses.

    Good luck, and if you haven't already, give yoga a try. I believe it's the cure for everything. I'm 51--same age as you--and if no one told me menopause was invented, I'd never know about it. Could be the yoga. Or the Guinness. Hmmmm...

  19. I find this very interesting. I drink green tea every day to avoid getting a headache. I really hope that you can kick the Coke habit. If you must have a Coke, go for the original red. I think that all "Diet" stuff is bad. Maybe because it has the word die in it.
    As for my bad habits, um yeah, I had to stop them cold turkey or die.
    Hope you feel better soon!!
    Some green tea pills purchased at your local health food store will help with the headaches and the caffeine levels are low but enough to get rid of your headache.
    Feel better soon!!


  20. I hope you feel better soon. I'm sure it will all be worth it eventually.

  21. Thanks everyone!!!! I appreciate your support.

    Still have a whopper of a headache but I'm hanging in there. Hopefully just another day or two to go.... Please god, pretty please!

    Betty: No Coke in Paraguay might have been a deal breaker for me :-)

    Sandi: Thanks for the cream offer, but I have all the hormones already and still can't sleep :-(

    Joanie M: Still counting the days off cigs after 17 years-- You poor thing!?! You should add one of those counters to your blog-- Like the number of tress lost in rain forests.

    Hit 40: Excedrin is VERY tempting for the caffeine, but I'm thinking that's cheating.

    Flartus: We were almost neighbors. I lived in Lake County, Ohio!

    Green-Eyed Momster: You had it way harder than me. YOU totally ROCK!!!

    Vegas Linda: Breaking the sleazy dress habit was probably worse than halting caffeine :-) Thanks for the yogi tip, I do Pilates now, maybe I should switch.

    Keep those cards and letters coming! I'll be by to visit you as soon as this headache is kicked to the curb.


  22. I've tried and failed many times with cold turkey on a few things, sodas included. I last a while and then slip.

    The worst for me, though, is carbs. I'd rather not eat at all than eat no carbs.

    I hope you get over the withdrawal hump soon!

  23. I just went through this a couple of months ago. It is horrible. The headaches, the nausea and the tired feeling. But, after that, you get such a great feeling of energy that you haven't had for awhile. Hang in there. It is worth it.

  24. Quitting cold turkey may and may not be healthy- if it causes major problems it might be best to enjoy some green tea instead of more caffeinated and less healthy things once or twice per day.

    Some smokers and even drug addicts cannot go cold turkey without major withdrawal issues. In extreme cases, it has even killed opium addicts. Doctors slowly wean them off the drugs with the use of prescribed and less dangerous (as they weren't bought on the street and are less likely to contain unwanted ingredients) prescriptions.

    Too much caffeine is bad- but not enough might not be good, either. Do you think moderation (2 cups of tea per day) might be helpful?

  25. I don't know if I could cold turkey my Diet Coke.

    You are strong.

  26. Well, you're certainly a tough cookie and you have my admiration.

    However, can I ask you a question? Do DOCTORS get sick and die? So why would you want to trust a guy like that?

    Also, if (when) you figure out the doc might not be as cute as you hoped, try going back to regular Coke - it's probably not the caffeine but the crap they replace the sugar with. Of course, you might get diabetes instead, but hey! nothing's for free, is it?

  27. Okay, the only thing I quit cold turkey was quitting anything cold turkey. Craziness.

    And, I would suggest that it wasn't the caffeine that was the issue...it's the amount of it that might be adding to your issue...

    The fact is that menopause plays havoc on our sleep cycles. And, you could be helped a great deal with your headaches and other 'change' issues with some Rescue Remedy. I'd also suggest you talk with someone at a good health food store about which Bach Flower Essences might help relieve your sleep issues and your current path to reduce the amount of caffeine in your system.

    One last note, also, the thing that could be effecting you is not just the caffeine, but the carbonation in the beverage...it can also effect you.

    Bottom line, as you have proved so well, they may have taken the cocaine out of the original Coke recipe, but it's no less addicting these days for many of us!

    I'll be thinking of you!

  28. I feel your pain. I've gone thru caffeine withdrawl so many times, I've lost count. Whatever you do, don't take Excedrin for the headaches, 'cause it's loaded with caffeine, kinda defeats the purpose.
    Have you considered caffeine-free diet coke? I actually prefer it to regular diet.
    If you can stick with it, the headaches usually go away within a week. Keep up the good work!

  29. I feel your pain...I'm a Pepsi girl myself and have tried to kick the habit a few times. This last time the headache was so horrid I caved.

    Good luck with all of this...you're a stronger person than I am. As much as I know I need to ditch the Pepsi, it's my only vice and I'm having a hard time letting go.

    Keep us posted!

  30. Do you exercise at all? I know, roll your eyes, but the "high" from exercise will help curb your cravings and soothe the withdrawal to an extent.

    Iced tea is my downfall too so I switched to decaf gradually. Keep it up...you will start to feel better.

  31. I will pray for you, my friend, and hope that God hears me. I do not think that I could walk down the same path that you are.

    Good luck.


    PS: For extra insurance, I might also pray to Buddha. I'm not super familiar with him, but I figure we are going to need all the help we can get on this one.

  32. Switch to Chianti. Your head might still hurt, but you'll have a lot more fun getting the headache, and I promise, you'll be out like a light when you get to the bottom of the bottle.

  33. I hope that your headache is better. I've been through this several times. It's definitely quite the accomplishment. It gets better and I bet you start sleeping better soon :)

  34. I had to kick a nose spray habit once. It was not pretty. As for caffiene, I asked my psychiatrist about giving it up recently. He suggested i don't, for the sake of familial harmony.
    I give it up occasionally, for some reason every couple of years I wake up and the thought of a cup of coffee makes me gag, I'll go a couple of months without anything, then ease back in. It's a little scary because the first 4 times that happened I was pregnant and didn't know it,

  35. YIKES! I quit pop about 2 yrs ago cold turkey. And I was completely addicted. Pepsi was my choice.

    I've got to say I've never missed it and if I have a sip now, it tastes like crap. Lemonaide now for me, or what.

    But I HAVE TO have my cup or 2 of morning coffee. Or I might hurt someone.

  36. Oh, Joanna, I feel your pain. I have an aversion to caffeine----if I have even a tiny bit (even accidentally) I'm hit hard by a headache the next day....so I can feel your three day headache. Sometimes mine are three days if I think, "Ah what the heck, lemme have a cup now..." and then wham...and yes it GOES....very soon you'll be done and don't do it again!

  37. Good luck with it, I have found it takes 21 days to break a habit and you will feel so good afterwards. You might find you can reintroduce it later but in smaller quantities. I did that after Christmas and banished everything. cold turkey is hard and I agree I can only imagine what it must be like to be addicted to stronger stuff. Now I can and do have a cup of coffee and feel ok. I was drinking about 6 a day before that. I do like diet coke too but never drink it at home. I just do not bring it in the house or any other fizy drinks. I have a sister in law who is a dietician and a brother who is a fitness fanatic. Once they came in my house to stay a couple of days and she tipped the bottle down the sink (I was so annoyed at the time but she resally thinks its deadly). It scared my other sister so much she gave up cold turkey too. Its worth remembering that mechanics use coke to get rid of grease stains so I am not sure what it does to our insides. There, will that picture help you with your withdrawal, lol?

  38. Oh my. Been there, done this, and couldn't stick with it. I've been able to say no to wine and cocktails more easily than giving up coffee for good. I love coffee too much. (I can give up the Diet Coke, though.) I keep reading conflicting reports on health risks and/or benefits of caffeine. I've heard it helps stave off diabetes -- a plus for me -- but it does make me hyper. I dunno ...
    Wishing you luck with this, Joanne. You're a stronger woman than I am. Drinking lots of water will help you feel better and keep you busy.

  39. Joanna,

    Glad you dropped over from Mari's. Didn't anyone tell you not to stop caffeine cold turkey? It's not good for you. Too much of a shock to the system.

    I used to love Coke Classic, but no more. My drink of choice is tea. Coffee in the morning.

    Aspartame can make you weak and irritable and can also cause headaches. Be careful going cold turkey.


  40. I will have to try the show after weeds!! Thank you for the tip.

  41. Your a brave lady, cutting out the
    caffeine, I don't think I could do it. Nice to meet you, thanks for stopping by, I'll visit again soon too.

  42. I quit caffeine each time I was pregnant. Oh how I missed it. And wine. I really missed the wine.

  43. Oh man, I feel your pain !! I've quit coke cold turkey twice. The time before last, I thought I was going to die. I'm serious. It was that bad. I had at least one sleepless, feel like I'm going to throw up, could my head please just explode so we can be done with this, night !!! The last time I quit, which was in January is the final time. I don't think my body can take it. And it's just caffeinated soft drink that gets me. I can do coffee, tea, chocolate is reasonable, non-addictive amounts. It's just the soft drink that gets me !!! Anyway ... thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment !! I love your blog ! I'll be back !!

  44. Joanna

    Thanks for your visit and comments tonight. I hope you'll come back again. I've sure enjoyed myself here tonight.

    Since I'm a breast cancer survivor I try to go caffeine free as much as I possibly can. I drink caffeine free diet coke, coffee and tea. I only eat dark chocolate which I've been told is lower in caffeine. Good luck in kicking the habit.


  45. Nice to meet you too! Quiting caffeine has got to be awful. Maybe the headaches going away is like anything else given up. After about a week or two you don't miss it.

    I too, also love the sound of a can of pop opening up and drinking it and that feeling you get when it goes down your throat. AHHHHH!!!!

    Cold turkey is hard. If I had to do that, I would have to cut down slowly.

  46. Hey Joanna! I feel your pain! I would hate to do that and have had to give up my coffee before (and I love my coffee) and the feeling you have is the pits! Just thought I'd stop by and say hi! Thanks for visiting my blog! I'm kind of in transition now! Who know where God will take it! BTW My sister Darlene had lupus. That is a very sweet thing those girls are doing!

  47. Keep going Joanna. You will feel better when the headaches subside and sleep is something to look forward to. Can you do it? Yes, you can!

  48. Thanks for stopping by. I think they need to come up with a caffine patch. Quitting cold turkey is hard for anything. good luck with that.

  49. Thanks for stopping by my blog - much appreciated.

    Diet Coke, tea and the odd ciggie are my treats...so hard to give up caffine though.

    Good luck to you - you can do it!


  50. Joanna, thanks for stopping by! I'm ashamed to admit I'm KEEPING my caffeine addiction. LOL Until I get adjusted to the new schedule here (dinner typically at 9 or 10 p.m. -- or later!) I need caffeine to make it through the day.

    Just a little side note that may or may not help: I started having insomnia issues at the onset of perimenopause. Not too many hot flashes or other symptoms but debilitating insomnia. Two years later and it's still a problem :-(

    Oh, and I went off caffeine back then, thinking that was part of the trouble but it didn't help at all.

  51. So funny! In my younger days, I was a speechwriter for a Senator in Georgia and my home office was in Atlanta. Atlanta is the headquarters of Coke, and as a job perk, they filled a huge fridge of Coke products weekly. Never had to pay, could drink 8 a day...and I often did! I cannot tell you how hard after many, many years it was to break myself! I was used to popping one as soon as I had the itch and it was not until I married and bought them for the house that I realized how many I was really drinking!!! Good luck. You can do it....but it sure as hell is no fun!

  52. Get outta my head! I am on day 4 of no soda today. And for a few nights I WAS falling asleep a lot better! And staying asleep! But that may have been the cocktail of 2 benadryl + 2 melatonin + 1 excedrin pm. And then I didn't want to get up in the morning. Sigh.
    Good for you. Did you swear off the chocolate, too??? I've beeen sneaking mini-snickers from a kid's party bag, and made cookies specifically to have sweet chocolate to eat! Maybe that's what I need to cut next! EGAD!

  53. Oh my! It might be easier if you cut out the caffeine in small steps... reducing your intake gently over a couple of weeks?

    Kudos to you, though, for sticking it out.

    I became vegetarian overnight... the opposite of cold turkey! Ha ha! I've never ever had withdrawals symptoms though... Just made the decision and lived with it for the past 23 years.

    As for coffee, I've cut down a lot to one or two cups a day.


  55. I love reading your website because you can always get us fresh and cool stuff, I think that I must at least say a thank you for your hard work.

    - Rob


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