OPINION: Two days without caffeine was actual hell

Let’s get this out there: I’m an avid user of caffeine. With that in mind, why I decided to give up caffeine during one of my busiest school weeks thus far still puzzles me.

I admit, I make countless lifestyle choices that probably hurt my well-being on the regular, but the worst of my college-inspired habits by far resonate with my vice: caffeine. I’m so addicted to caffeine that my body truly cannot make it through an entire day without drinking at least a cup of coffee or a Red Bull, or both — often both, times two.

On a normal day, I probably drink two to three cups of coffee. On an extra-festive day, I’ll drink three to four. According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, four cups of coffee equates to about 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is a safe amount for most adults to consume. Drinking any more than 400 milligrams can cause symptoms such as nervousness, insomnia and muscle tremors.

Here’s the breakdown of how the whole cold-turkey process went, in brief: I broke down. I originally planned to withhold from drinking or eating any sources of caffeine for three days. I only managed to last two. 

Upon waking up Monday morning, I didn’t notice feeling any less energized than usual, but every moment thereafter contributed to a seemingly ceaseless, decaffeinated downward spiral. I felt the cold grips of reality welcome me to my own personal decaffeinated hell for the next two days.

I couldn’t focus, and I felt increasingly tired with each class I attended. As I sat at my cubicle at work, my eyes drooped and my brain struggled to form coherent sentences and thoughts as I spoke to my coworkers. In the evening, I attempted to do homework assignments and practice piano, but in the end, these tasks were out of the question. Instead of persevering through the pain, I fell asleep around 8:30 p.m. 

Tuesday was definitely not as awful as Monday. I was an overall more functional member of society, but my need to stay up late to complete projects and basic homework assignments trumped my desire to kick my caffeine addiction. So ended the two days of my caffeine-less life. 

Life without my nagging addiction was surprisingly difficult. I asked my most trusted source, WebMD, why my physical and mental being felt dead when I wasn’t caffeinated. According to WebMD, regular caffeine use can cause a mild physical dependence, but not to the extent that it’s considered a full-out drug addiction; it’s just minor. Caffeine dependencies don’t threaten physical, social or economic health in the way harder drugs do. Thank goodness. 

However, if people who consume more than two servings of caffeine every day abruptly cut off their intake, physically debilitating withdrawal symptoms can manifest. 

I can vouch for this, WebMD. After I quit caffeine cold turkey, I pretty much immediately experienced every symptom the website associated with withdrawals: 

Headache
Dizziness
IRRITABILITY
Difficulty Concentrating
Fatigue 

I’ve experienced the effects of caffeine “overdose” as well. The aftermath of both a complete lack of and an excess of caffeine consumption are awful. Maybe I should re-evaluate my dependence on caffeine by drinking less coffee and energy drinks. Maybe I should seek to find balance.

But, then again, how else am I going to stay up until two in the morning to complete all the work I’ve procrastinated on?


Follow Brenna Bailey on Twitter.



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