Caffeine Withdrawal

Negative symptoms experienced after drug use are known as withdrawals. What is happening, in essence, is your body is crying out for you to take more of the drug. And if you listen to your body and take the drug again, the withdrawal symptoms go away. Withdrawals are the result of a physical dependence on a drug. This physical dependence is the hallmark of addiction. And believe it or not, most of the world is addicted to a drug that resembles heroin in its effects, but is perfectly legal. That drug is caffeine. According to a John Hopkins Medicine study conducted in the mid-90s, it takes as little as little as a half cup of coffee a day to cause caffeine withdrawals. Caffeine withdrawal is beginning to be recognized by the medical community as a physical disorder. It is expected that the World Health Organization will update their ICD (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Heath Problems), a kind of mental-disorder bible for the medical field, to include a diagnosis for caffeine withdrawal. The diagnosis should also appear the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Caffeine's Withdrawal Symptoms

Caffeine withdrawal can include:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Drowsiness

The number of symptoms and level of intensity will vary according to the amount of caffeine a person normally consumes each day. However, in more extreme cases caffeine withdrawal has been known to include nausea, muscle pain, and even vomiting. A person might even confuse their caffeine withdrawal with the flu, and end up staying home from work or school as a result. Studies show that headache is the most common caffeine withdrawal symptom, with about half the participants experiencing it. Thirteen percent had symptoms so severe that it caused significant distress or functional impairment. Typically, onset of withdrawal symptoms occurred within 24 hours. However, peak intensity did not occur for between one and two days. Although the severity of symptoms generally increased along caffeine consumption levels, caffeine withdrawal occurred after abstaining from doses as little as 100 milligrams ÔøΩ equivalent to a small cup of coffee or 20 oz. of Mountain Dew. Between 80 and 90 percent of adults in the U.S. consume caffeine on a daily basis, and the average adult consumes 280 milligrams of caffeine per day, nearly triple the amount required to cause physical dependence. These numbers show that caffeine is the most widely used addictive drug in the world. Surveys also show that avoidance of caffeine withdrawal symptoms was a major motivating factor in further caffeine consumption. That is, fear of the caffeine headache results in a person continuing their caffeine addiction.

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