Caffeine addiction is a problem that affects many people. Caffeine is a stimulant of the methylxanthine family that occurs naturally in various plants. Aside from coffee, caffeine is found in energy drinks, chocolate, some prescription medications, some types of tea, cocoa, diet supplements, and cold remedies. The average worldwide caffeine consumption rate is about 70 mg per person per day. If you experience any of the following issues, you may be a caffeine addict.
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About Caffeine Addiction
In its mildest form, caffeine addiction is marked by a headache and feelings of fatigue and irritability when deprived of caffeine. Due to the widespread consumption of caffeinated products, the true prevalence of caffeine addiction is unclear. The National Coffee Association's 2013 National Coffee Drinking Trends study indicates that 83 percent of Americans consume coffee. A 2010 study by Harris Interactive found that one third of the American workforce requires caffeinated products to function at work, and that nearly forty percent of workers need two or more cups of coffee to make it through the workday.
Research suggests that long-term consumption of 300 mg of caffeine every day can impair the nervous system and create symptoms such as nervousness, a red face, tachycardia, rambling, and muscle spasms. At high enough levels, caffeine consumption can result in chromosomal damage, though the threshold is unclear. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should abstain from caffeinated products, as the caffeine may be harmful to the child.
The lethal dose of caffeine in humans is estimated at 3 to 8 grams (30 to 80 cups of coffee) in one day.
Treatment Of Caffeine Addiction
The main goal of treating caffeine addiction is reducing caffeine intake to a safe level. Treatment generally occurs on an outpatient basis. Severe cases may be treated on an inpatient basis at an addictions treatment facility, but this is rare. Treatment duration depends on the severity of the addiction. The mildest cases may be treated in just a few weeks. Treatment generally lasts one to three months, but can last up to six months or more in severe cases.
Caffeine addicts are advised to gradually taper their intake, cutting out one of their daily caffeinated beverages every three days and replacing it with non-caffeinated products such as herbal tea. Quitting caffeine cold turkey is not advised, as it will trigger withdrawal symptoms. Caffeine withdrawal is characterized by headaches, decreased energy, muscle aches, irritability, and constipation. Insomnia and flu-like symptoms can occur in severe cases. Caffeine withdrawal generally lasts two to nine days, starting 12 to 24 hours after your last dose. Symptoms are generally most severe within one or two days of your last dose, and gradually lessen.
Post Rehabilitation Of Caffeine Addiction
The post-rehabilitation prognosis for caffeine addiction is usually positive. Recovering caffeine addicts are advised to maintain a low level of caffeine intake by drinking decaf or a coffee-decaf mix, reducing brewing time for coffee and tea, and opting for caffeine-free soft drinks. Non-caffeinated tea, such as herbal green tea, is also an option. A regular exercise regimen in a bright setting can help, as the bright lights stimulate the brain, and the exercise releases endorphins that will improve one's mood. A diet that is rich in fresh fruits can increase mental alertness, as fruits contain natural sugars that create a healthy energy boost. The goal is to prevent the addiction from recurring. As the goal of rehabilitation is to develop lifelong self-control habits, the process of learning to control one's caffeine intake can last 1 to 5 years.
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