Giving up caffeine is an arduous task that should not be taken lightly. Particularly not if you are a hardcore user; if you consume an average of two or more litres of soda each day or more than a pot (10 cups) of coffee, you may want to set aside a couple of days, as kicking caffeine is a bumpy ride.

There are two different approaches to removing caffeine from your life, at least, two that I know of. Feel free to add your own methods.

Method 1 ("Reverse Engineering")

My psychotherapist recommended this method, though it was not the one I chose (see below). It involves a slight degree of self-trickery, and is probably the less painful of the two methods.

If you are a Coke (et al) drinker, continue to drink regular, caffeinated Coke, as usual. Start cutting your servings of Coke with Caffeine Free Coke, in increasing amounts over the course of a month or so. Start out with 3/4 regular, 1/4 caffeine free and go from there until you're down to all caffeine free and no regular. This should reduce withdrawal effects if not eliminate them altogether.

Do the same with regular and decaf coffee or tea. If you're drinking a case of Red Bull a day, try manacles.

Method 2 ("Electroshock Therapy")

This is the method I chose to inflict upon myself. It is not pleasant. This method is, of course, quitting caffeine "cold turkey." Generally, this involves some rather extreme headaches, lack of energy, lack of alertness, bloodshot eyes, and some not-unmanagable longing for a caffeinated beverage. I quit caffeine on a Friday and spent the weekend alternately asleep and rolling around in bed with a huge headache that seemed to be spread over the entirety of my cranium. Even my nose hurt. I went from drinking at least a 2-litre bottle of Coke every day to no caffeine at all, so unless you are as addicted as I was, your withdrawal symptoms will probably vary.

Once you get past the withdrawal period, you should begin feeling better, or at least, that jitter in your leg will stop, you won't walk so quickly, and you won't have to pee every 20 minutes. Another rather large bonus is that you will almost certainly sleep better, and the risk of having a heart attack at an early age (<30) is reduced.

Good luck.

Write-up moved from node - "Coming off caffeine"

Why come off caffeine? Two reasons. Firstly - caffeine is an addictive drug. And addictive drugs are bad, y'know? Do you really want your mind enslaved to a chemical? To know that all that separates you from shaking mindless incapacity is your morning fix?

Secondly, caffeine is an addictive drug. And you get tolerant. One study had people becoming pretty much immune to the effects of 400mg a day (that's about 4 cups of coffee) within a week. So if you want your morning coffee to actually have an effect, or if you want to be able to use the drug as a fall-back stimulant for some future suddenly looming deadline, you'll want to free yourself of it temporarily.

Well, easier said than done. There are withdrawal symptoms. In particular, there are the headaches, there's the drowsiness, there's the muffled quality to all your senses, and there's the substantial thickening of that aura of crapness that crowds your mind. Not nice. Effects peak after a couple of days without the drug, and can last for well over a week. So here's some advice - don't try cold turkey. Come off it fast, but not completely immediately. You only need a tiny proportion of your normal dose to keep those nastinesses at bay. If you normally have 300mg (that's about three cups of coffee, or six of tea) you'll only need 25mg to keep you feeling OKish. So start with that - that's a quarter of a cup of coffee a day - and come down gently to nothing within a few days. Yes, this does mean you'll soon be picking grains of coffee out practically individually ("one pinch or two?") and pouring teaspoonfuls of water into your cup - but at least such measures remind you that this is a drug you're dealing with, hence redoubling your resolve to get off it.

Well, good luck!

Source for factual information - New Scientist

Some more advice from experience:

I progressively gave up caffeine (which I took in in the form of Pepsi) over the course of a year. I cut back from three to two to one can a day, but this was originally at the dentist's urging. Once I was down to one, I decided "Why not cut caffeine out altogether?" My grandfather has a slight heart flutter which I seem to have inherited, and my mom has hypoglycemia, so this seemed like the right thing to do, seeing as caffeine is very bad for both these conditions.

About the time I went about dropping out my daily can of Pepsi, I started to get very tired; I could hardly stay awake in school. I didn't associate this with caffeine withdrawl at first, and my doctor diagnosed it as mono. Blood tests ruled this out, however, and hypoglycemia was ruled out as a cause, too (although drinking fruit juice in order to get more sugar seemed to help). I later realized it was because of the lack of caffeine in my diet; my body was not getting the usual boost it was used to.

As a Pepsi replacement, I usually use white grape juice (the sugar helps a lot), sweetened iced tea (again the sugar, and the small amount of caffeine gives me a small boost), and Sprite. I think that Sprite is possibly the best choice for cola addicts, since it is caffeine-free and tastes similar to cola; caffeine-free colas just don't taste right. Iced tea might be good for coffee addicts, I'm not sure.

Occasionally, I will slip to the dark side and have a glass of Pepsi. This is a bad thing. My heart starts racing, I get anxious, my hands shake, and I'm often tired the next day. Don't ever do this if you need to do something physical after! You will be sweaty and short of breath.

Hope my advice can help someone else out there kick the caffeine habit - do it, you'll reap great benefits later! (Being able to get up in the morning without a caffeine boost is just one of them!)

Giving up caffeine is not to be taken lightly, but once you've managed it for about a month you can probably keep it up indefinitely.

First of all, why give it up? I mean, what's a mug of nice, hot tea going to do on a cold morning? It won't kill you!

True, it won't kill you, but too much caffeine builds up a tolerance, which without realising can become an addiction, which can then become an all consuming passion. Caffeine speeds up your heart rate, is a dieuretic, a laxative, a fairly heavy-duty stimulant and, incidentally, expensive. 250 mls of Red Bull costs about six times as much as an equivalent volume of Sprite.

To clear things up before I start the Patented Hugskull Program of Decaffeination, I must stress this is for serious addicts, not for people who drink maybe three lattes a day. I'm talking about people who can't get out of bed without being put on a caffeine drip.

I was finally galvanised into quitting after writing down my daily intake, and realising that I was planning to steal a kilogram jar of lab-grade caffeine from the lab. My intake list went as follows. (This part is a little G.T.K.Y., but it kind of puts into perspective the kind of addiction level that this little strategy can work up to. )

It'll probably work faster for people starting at lower dosages anyway.

6:30 am. Breakfast . 2 medium cups (1 pint) standard coffee
6.45 am. Leaving house. 6 tablets Pro Plus, crushed and snorted
7.50 am. In town centre. 3 double espresso and one latte (1 pint) for the walk
8.10 am. Arrival at college. 2 cups of vending machine coffee.
8.30-11.40. First lectures. Anything up to 2 litres of Blue Charge, and more Pro Plus
11.40-12.15. Dinner. Usually four more cups of vending machine coffee.
12.15-3.20. Afternoon lectures. A further litre or two of Blue Charge.
6.15. Arrive home. 2 or 3 cans of Red Bull to prepare for going out.
9.00 onwards. Out at nightclub. Up to fifteen bottles of Adrenaline.
4.20-ish. Return Home. Lather, rinse and repeat.

As you can see, it had to stop. I tried a few quitting methods first, but this one was the best, and is the one which a few friends hooked on the stealthy stimulant used as well.

Week one - Stop eating/drinking anything which is deliberately caffeinated. This means no more Red Bull, no recharge, or as it's now known, Adrenaline, no V, no Solstis, no Raptor, no Blue Charge, my own former poison of choice, no Lucozade Original, and no Pro Plus, caffeine gum or any other of the chewy, crunchy little monsters of confectionery which purport to get you high.

This should get you used to the idea of not automatically choosing your beverage on the basis of how high a caffeine content it has. Try to find things which taste like the things you're giving up to replace them - you can make a convincing Red Bull using 75 mls cheap strawberryade, 50 mls limeade, 20 mls lemonade and a few drops of undiluted orange cordial. But drink it out of a mug rather than a glass, as you'll never get the colour right. You'll start getting the withdrawal pains a little now, usually headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, drowsiness, in my case mild hallucinations, migranes, and one friend reported severely aching muscles. It's not friendly. You might find that you start drinking more of the permitted caffeinated things to compensate. Try not to.

Week two - Stop drinking tea and coffee. Give them up altogether until you've managed all of the steps. Even the decaf stuff, just to get you used to it. After all, the Red Bull substitute is something which you have to make for yourself, not something which you can "Forget" to order decaf at your local Starbucks. Try replacing them for now with hot chocolate.

Weeks three to seven - this phase might last up to a month, just because it's so difficult. Things which you never imagined were caffeinated actually are. Aside from the usual Coke, Pepsi and Dr Pepper, there's also Irn Bru, green tea, some alcopops, especially the blue ones, and a surprising number of other obscure drinks, including, sadly, some absolute gems.

Around this time you may want to find some other stimulant to wean you through total withdrawal. You'll have felt bad on the third day of week one, but you would have still had coffee and Pepsi to keep you going. At the start of week two you will have lost coffee, and drank inordinate amounts of Dr Pepper. Now you've almost cut your caffeine umbilical. It's going to be hard. I used something called Energy Bomb, which contains all sorts of wonderful rainforest plant extracts. It increased my concentration, my energy levels, my overall demeanour, and, somewhat embarrassingly, my sex drive. Sadly, after about three weeks of mixing borderline-legal stimulants into my every meal, I ran out of money and had to go cold turkey from that. The downer was worse than the one from giving up caffeine in the first place. I couldn't face going outdoors, became irritable, and almost lost my partner.

May I suggest glucose tablets, lots of fresh fruit, or sugary pop instead. These don't give you nightmarish energy crashes, and won't usually result in you substituting one addiction for another.

Now, this is the hard part.

Week eight, or as soon as you feel ready - Drop chocolate. I know that it sounds silly, but things which contain actual chocolate, not just artificial flavouring, amazingly enough also contain caffeine. Sadly, this includes drinking cocoa. But believe me, once you've got rid of it all, you won't miss it much. Pretty soon after dropping chocolate, start cutting down on energy tablets if you've been taking them, and feel proud of yourself for weaning yourself off a dangerous addiction.

WARNING: Hugskull is not a doctor. Don't try this at home if you have a real medical need for caffeine, e.g. heart rate regulation. This is mostly for stressed-out junkies who don't realise that they have a problem until they snap someone in half for drinking their mocha.

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