going off of caffeine

What’s the best way to go off of caffeine, or at least taper down caffeine use to the point where you don’t need to have coffee every day?

I started working at a coffeeshop about six months ago, and thought nothing of downing multiple shots of espresso to make it through shifts. Then I began to notice that on days off, I’d get a splitting headache within a few hours of waking if I didn’t have at least a cup of coffee, and what’s worse, once the headache sets in, no amount of coffee will make it go away. So I realized that I had a caffeine addiction, and started tapering off my use to one shot of espresso or one cup of coffee a day, then started going to half-decaf, but I don’t seem to be “getting off of it.”

The headaches are killer - the real aching, skull-splitting type that make you want to cure them with a shotgun. Should I just completely drop the caffeine and take handfuls of tylenol for the headaches until I’m off of the stuff? Is there a better way?

That’s probably your best bet. Don’t exceed 4 grams of tylenol a day, and knock off the tylenon within 3 or 4 days too, as even occasional high dose use can stress one’s liver a bit. And avoid alcohol while you’re using this regimen.

Caffeine withdrawal is not life or health threatening, just a pain.

Just reading the thread title, I was going to recommend easing off to avoid headaches, but since that obviously hasn’t worked and QtM has advised going cold turkey, never mind.

I went cold turkey a couple of times (involuntarily). Hurt like hell for a day or two, then I was ok.

I’ve weaned myself off coffee a few times for the same reason - I hated being addicted to something and the withdrawal sucked. However, I’ve noticed that you can avoid the headaches and not necessarily swear off caffiene entirely. For a while I drank green tea instead of coffee. I dropped the coffee (cold turkey) and still went through the headaches for a day or two, but the green tea’s mild level of caffiene was a pleasant, non-addictive pick-me-up.

For the headaches, you might try Excedrin instead of Tylenol. Excedrin has a bit of caffiene in it, so it seems to work well with coffee-withdrawal headaches. Tylenol doesn’t do a thing for me. Watch your dosage either way.

Also you might try Yerba Mate. I still drink coffee pretty regularly, but on days I drink Mate instead, I don’t even *think *about coffee, I don’t suffer headaches, and it makes me feel very alert but without the nervousness, stomach problems, or energy crashes associated with coffee. Also I notice that if I drink Mate (and no coffee) several days in a row, I can go a day or two without either and it’s not a big deal.

Good luck!

More on Yerba Mate (from the above Wikipedia link):

And I sincerely apologize to all for habitually misspelling “caffeine.” It’s one of my problem words.

What you are experiencing are not headaches, they are migraines. (This is according to my doctor) which are triggered by caffeine, or rather the lack of it.

I think it’s a great idea to wean yourself off of it. I’ve been seriously considering giving up my Pepsi addiction in large part because of the migraines when I skip a day. I gave up well liquors a few years ago because after the initial buzz they made me feel like my head was being split open by a dull hatchet.

I second the advice to take Excedrin Extra Strength. This has never failed to take care of my migraine, usually within 15 minutes.

When I gave up soda for Lent a few months ago, I got the usual migraine on schedule on the first day. But that was it. If you can get through the first day, you should be in the clear.

Every so often I go off caffeine for a day or two. It’s much easier for me. Sorry to hear that it’s so difficult.

Half the time I have no symptoms at all. The other half I have a moderate headache which responds pretty quickly to Advil, Tylenol, or caffeine. Then the next day I’m almost always fine.


Caffeine withdrawal SUCKS. I’ve done it a few times, most recently when I was pregnant and then breastfeeding, but can never manage to stay on the wagon. I second the recommendation for Tylenol – I’d avoid the Excedrin, simply because you’ll still be feeding your caffeine habit. The only other suggestion I have is to drink lots of water, because this always seems to combat the headache and fatigue that comes with kicking the caffeine.

Agreed: no matter what you do, drink a LOT of water!

This isn’t advice, IANAD, yadda yadda. I quit cold turkey, and after a few days of extreme sleepiness and a headache or two (moderate, but tolerable) I was fine. I hated needing coffee to make me feel like I was functional, and I think it took about a week before I was really alert in the mornings. Now I only drink coffee when I need to stay alert to drive (perhaps once a month or so) and it’s very effective.

I am an addict. Every now and then I try to quit. It’s painful the first few days, but then, I thought, it gets better. Only the last time I tried to quit, after about four weeks of cold turkey, my secretary walked into my office with a cup of coffe. She said, “Drink that. I can’t take it anymore.”

To this day, I don’t know what the uncaffeinated me did, but I dutifully drank the coffee. She’s the bestest secretary ever, so a cup of coffee doesn’t seem like much of a sacrifice to make her happy.

I like to decaf myself at least a couple times a year. I was 6 months on the wagon from a lovely decaffing during the Xmas holidays and doing swimmingly, when I had to deal with my mom’s birthday celebration. (Stuff like that sends spazms through me. Caffeine somehow helps.)
Anywhooo, I’ve found when I go cold turkey to: take some aspirin ( better for headaches than tylenol. as it is also a blood thinner and gets your blood to your cramped brain faster, which is what you need. unless I am wrong and I shall defer to Qadop sage advice.) and also take two multivitamins in the morning and sometimes one at lunch.

That way instead of my body going: Where the hell is the coffee? I need it now, now now!

It says" Hey, what the hell is this stuff? Vitamin A? C? OMFG I know exactly what to do with this! This goes here and here! Someone likes me! Yippee!
It confuses the body and still gives you energy ( and pretty pee) while going through withdrawl. After about a week, I am back down to one multivitamin.

As someone who has been a migraine sufferer for 20+ years, I swear to og this works like a charm.

I also would throw in there a morning stool softener ( or some apple juice or an apple to eat) to help keep the body regular. Coffee, for me, is my morning laxative.

And if you don’t think your sphinxter and brain are connected, you are fooling yourself.

While caffeine withdrawal may provoke a migraine headache in people with that disorder, or with a propensity towards it, I consider it a grave mistake to refer to a garden-variety caffeine withdrawal headache as a migraine. (Some folks, including one Barry Spencer, believe that migraine is always caused by caffeine).

While caffeine withdrawal headaches (due to blood vessel dilation) share some features with a migraine, I believe there are some significant differences in underlying neurochemistry cause and effect which make the headaches different.

That said, excedrin migraine (with its caffeine, aspirin and tylenol) works best for caffeine withdrawal headaches because it adds caffeine. :eek:

In my mind, there’s no kindness in hanging a man slowly. YMMV.

I FOURTH the recommendation of Excedrin. I think three greatest drugs are were aspirin, caffeine, and penicillin.

But, my real recommendation is this: never put yourself in a position where you won’t be able to get coffee in the morning. Coffee’s good for you. It’s also readily available everywhere in the world and it’s pretty easy to make when you’re camping.

Unless you’re flying on the space shuttle or something, there’s no good reason to go off coffee.

I don’t understand the recommendations to take Excedrin. If you’re trying to stop caffeine, STOP CAFFEINE. Excedrin contains caffeine so of course it’s going to alleviate your caffeine withdrawal symptoms. But guess what? You’re still addicted to caffeine.

I kicked a 4-soda-a-day habit about 12 years ago by going cold turkey and I’ve been caffeine-free since then. No coffee, no cola, no iced tea, and only enough chocolate to make life livable.

Stop doing caffeine today.

If you can get it down to one cup of coffee a day, then you are in better shape than I am. I can’t function without normal caffeinated coffee. When I visited my folks, I felt really sluggish and constipated for about two days until I discovered that they had switched to decaf and hadn’t told me that the morning coffee was decaf. That afternoon I went to the market and bought a pound of real coffee for myself and the next morning, I started to make a small pot for just me which cleared up the symptoms.

My particular addiction is coffee. I’ve tried teas of various sorts but they don’t really cut it. Yerba Matte for me is too acidic somehow and I find that it upsets my stomach and leaves me a little too wired. For my taste, it is way too bitter.

Interesting that you should mention this. I’m thinking about becoming more of a caffiene abuser myself. I’m normally a tea drinker, but I’ve noticed that on mornings when I treat myself to a cup o’ Joe, I have a much easier time achieving that scary laser-like focus that lets me blast through work, which is awfully damned useful at this point in my life.

Plus, I’m worried that I’m morphing into one of those irritating self-righteous people who go around saying, “Running gives me a natural high, man,” in a holier-than-thou tone of voice, so it would probably be good for my character for me to aquire a proper vice.

I went off Caff cold turkey about 3 & 1/2 years ago. One week of flu-like nausea and headaches then I was fine. It’s not fun but it’s not too hard either.

FYI, I did it because I was feeling light headed and dizzy and my heart rate was high. The caffeine may not have been as much of a cause as I thought at the time, but I figured it would be better in the long run.

I stopped drinking caffeine cold turkey last year when I found out I was pregnant. It took me about a week or two to stop getting headaches and of feeling pretty tired in the morning (though a lot of that was probably pregnancy), but it was definitely worth it. I now feel more awake without coffee than with it. I still drink it every once in a while, but since I’m nursing, it’s always decaf. Otherwise my son gets a little nuts and can’t sleep. Plus, I don’t feel more awake with the high octane stuff - I just feel buzzy.

Even though it sucked, I’d recommend going off cold turkey, too, unless you’re really disciplined about keeping track of how much you’re drinking. When I used to drink soda and decided to wean off it, I’d forget how much I had had that day and would wind up drinking about the same amount anyway. When I did manage to drink less, I’d still get headaches, so when I got pregnant, I figured it made more sense to quit altogether. It hurt a lot, but for a far shorter period of time than if I had stopped slowly.

Much like many “hard” drugs, the euphoric effects at any given level only last a few times. Then you have to keep taking the same amount just to feel normal.