Most people can’t survive without their morning cup of coffee. We might ask ourselves, at what point does coffee turn into a caffeine addiction? The signs may be there, but you may not realize it. A lot of people are addicted to coffee without even realizing it.
Dependence on caffeine is not dangerous at all and there are actually health benefits to drinking coffee. However, it will be good to know why you are getting that random headache. There are many side effects to caffeine addiction and it will be important to know if you are addicted to coffee and caffeine.
Another thing to remember is caffeine is not just found in coffee, so you may be consuming a lot more coffee than you realize.
“Nowadays, we don’t realize caffeine is in a lot of things we normally wouldn’t think it is,”Rachel Salas, M.D., an associate professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins Medicine
Chances are you are consuming enough caffeine daily to be addicted.
Here are some red flags you may be addicted to coffee and products to avoid. We will also provide tips on overcoming your addiction.
1. You’re grumpy before your first cup of coffee
Stimulants release dopamine in your brain and improve your mood when a consumer. This is why your mood usually increases after the first cup of coffee. The brain starts producing “feel good” chemicals due to the caffeine in the coffee. Due to the dopamine released this is addictive in its own right because it makes you feel good.
“It stimulates the dopamine receptors in our brain, kind of like cocaine and other certain drugs, just not nearly to the same extent,”Dana Hunnes, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior dietician at UCLA Medical Center
As a result, there are a lot of people who swear by the morning cup of coffee…
2. Your head hurts if you skip your morning cup of coffee
The chemical in coffee that is addictive is caffeine. Caffeine is physically addictive and can cause withdrawal symptoms. Much like withdrawal symptoms from other drugs it is due to the stimulation of the brain. Caffeine blocks the adenosine receptors in the brain. As a result, you feel more alert and active. Caffeine is also a vasoconstrictor. It makes the blood vessels in the brain slightly more narrow and restricts blood flow. Once you skip your morning coffee the extra adenosine causes increased blood flow causing a pounding headache.
3. You can’t focus or concentrate on anything
If you can’t concentrate without a cup of coffee you may be addicted. Habitually drinking coffee makes your brain increases alertness and improves memory that coffee. So, once you try to concentrate without caffeine you may feel hazy and unable to focus. It has been proven by studies, quitting off caffeine results in reduced cognitive performance and has a negatively impacts mood.
4. Inconsistent mood and mood swings
Most people forget that coffee contains an extremely strong stimulant called caffeine. The negative impact on mood leads us to mood swings and outbursts. If you find yourself lashing out at people randomly you may be addicted to coffee and experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This can affect your mood dramatically. It is the same as “needing your fix” for other drugs. If you’re addicted you may need to be caffeinated regularly to feel good. Once your body gets used to the amount of caffeine intake your mood swings will be more dramatic because you will feel good for a shorter amount of time. As a result, you will have to drink more coffee to keep a level head.
5. You need to drink more coffee to feel any effects
As you get accustomed to drinking caffeine your body will build resistance to the effects of caffeine. You will have to drink more and more coffee to feel any effect from the coffee. Tolerance to coffee can build it to the point that it is immune to the effects of coffee but still has all the negative downsides of coming off of caffeine. If you find yourself craving another cup of coffee even after drinking a full cup, you may be addicted to coffee. This may lead to digestion issues and acid reflux.
6. Acid reflux and digestion issues and making you suffer
There have been studies and research did that show drinking drinks with caffeine affects gut health and may negatively affect you in many different ways. Some negative digestion issues are:
- Painful Heartburn
- Frequent Urination
- Inconsistent Bowel Movements
If you suffer from any of these symptoms it will be best to quit coffee or drink less coffee. You may require visit a doctor for some more severe symptoms.
7. You’ve never thought about skipping a day
Regularly, people usually go through their normal routines without any changes. However, if you’ve gone out of your way just to get your cup of coffee… you may be addicted. Quitting anything is hard, but it will be especially hard if you are physically and mentally addicted to it. By slowly reducing your coffee intake you can slowly reduce your reliance on it and remove it from your daily routine.
8. A lot of your day is based on how you are getting your next fix
For most people, a nice meeting or date will happen in the park, at the beach, or at a bar. However, for the coffee addict, the perfect spot for any meeting, date, etc. will be at a coffee shop. You may take this opportunity to try a new coffee place or just hit up a regular spot. If you are planning your meetings around coffee it may be an indication you are addicted to coffee.
Signs and Symptoms of Coffee Withdrawal
If you’ve ever tried to quit drinking coffee and you suffered any of these side effects you have experience withdrawal. This happens when your body is deprived of something that is expecting. When your body is exposed to caffeine for an extended period of it it gets accustomed to it and balances normal life around it. By removing the caffeine, it disturbs homeostasis and causes these following symptoms:
- Low Energy
- Reduced Alertness and Memory
- Low Energy
- Bad Moods
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Mind Fog
- Muscle Pain
How to Lower your Dependence on Coffee and Caffeine
Symptoms of coffee withdrawal usually peak after 24 – 48 hours of quitting. These symptoms can last up to a week before you fully recover. There are not many treatments, but there are methods you can use to alleviate symptoms of withdrawal. These methods are:
- Drinking more water
- Slowly reducing your caffeine intake and not quitting cold turkey
- Sweat and exercise throughout the day
Exercise can replace coffee as a natural stimulate to give your body the jump it needs to start the day. It also releases dopamine and makes you feel ready to attack the day.
If you exhibit signs of coffee addiction, don’t worry. As we said before it is more common than you think and it may not be a bad thing because there are health benefits to coffee. However, if you want to change your habits it may be difficult to do so because caffeine is addictive mentally and physically!
By switching out one cup of coffee with a caffeine-free option you may be able to phase out coffee altogether in a few short weeks.