Despite research that shows the many health benefits of coffee, many people are ...
How do you know you have a coffee addiction? You sleep with your eyes open. You do not sweat you percolate. You soak your dentures in coffee. We may joke about people who need a coffee fix before they can function in the morning, or in any other part of the day, but how serious is coffee addiction, and can it be cured?
Coffee addiction is a self-perpetuating problem. The more coffee you drink, the more you increase the body’s tolerance to caffeine so the more coffee you need to drink to feel satisfied and to get that morning wake up, after you have woken up.
Do you crave coffee? Do you feel lethargic when you do not drink any? Do you have trouble sleeping? Do you feel irritable if you cannot get your hit of caffeine? Do you drink more than six cups a day? Then step back. You probably have an addiction to coffee.
If you are seriously worried about your irritability, the trouble you have getting to sleep or the general feeling of lethargy if you don’t get a caffeine fix, then it’s probably time to do something about your coffee drinking habits.
So what can you do to stop the caffeine cravings? Depending on how strong your willpower is, you can cut back on your own or with help. The easiest way to start is to cut back on the number of cups of coffee you have in a day. If you usually have three cups on the morning, cut back to two. If you are used to having a large cup of coffee within reach at all times, think about replacing it with a small cup. Alternatively, you can go the opposite extreme and go cold turkey. This will mean removing all temptation to have a drink including getting rid of all the coffee products in your cupboard, taking a different way to work so you do not pass the coffee shop, or even cutting back on your work breaks so that you do not associate with people drinking coffee. This does take a lot of will power and is an extreme way of shaking up your addiction. You will experience headaches, you will be irritable and undoubtedly, you will crave a cup of coffee. Nevertheless, you must persevere. The symptoms generally last three to four days and up to a week. But you will find that once you’re over the hump, you no longer have that burning hunger or rather craving for a cup of coffee.
If you do not feel strong enough on your own to cut back or cut out coffee, then consider alternative medicine. There is evidence that hypnosis or NLP (Neuro-Lingual Programming) can help in beating the cravings. Both treatments aim to change your behaviour so that you avoid the situations when you would regularly reach for the coffee cup. For example, you get up later in the morning so that you do not have time to put the coffee pot on or you take a different way to work so that you do not pass the coffee shop. With NLP, you retrain the brain to not want coffee, thereby cutting down on your cravings.
However, what if you try everything and you still cannot quit the caffeine for good? Well it might be down to your genes. According to research published by the National Cancer Institute, some of us carry a gene that pre-disposes us to crave caffeine. If you have the “high consumption” version of the gene then you are more likely to drink coffee and lots of it, whilst those at the opposite end of the scale may never drink more than the occasional and social cup of coffee in the course of their life.
Whilst they have not yet developed a patch to stop the cravings, there are many things you can do to cut down your coffee intake and end your addiction to coffee and caffeine. However, if nothing seems to work, then it may not be your fault; blame your genes.