If I were to ask what everyone thought was America’s most used drug, caffeine wouldn’t run through their mind.
Because it’s so engrained into the American lifestyle.
90% of Americans consume caffeine everyday making it the most used drug on the market.
Before pharmaceutical medicine, soda, pre-workouts, and energy drinks, caffeine was found only in nature. Natural caffeine has been consumed for thousands of years in foods like tea leaves, coffee beans, chocolate, all at healthy levels, up until the most recent creation of synthetic caffeine.
Almost all drinks now contain some form of synthetic caffeine, and for what reason?
To get you hooked.
Most don’t realize, or keep track of how much caffeine they take in, thinking only about caffeine’s short term benefits.
But is caffeine sacrificing your quality of life in the long run?
Yes, Caffeine is a Drug
People don’t consider caffeine a drug, nor do they consider it addictive. We’re too used to it.
Caffeine is a mild stimulant of the nervous system, somewhat like amphetamines (Adderall), just not as strong. Like a majority of drugs, caffeine is addictive.
Ordinary people weren’t the only ones unaware of this caffeine addiction. For a while, so has the medical community. Caffeine wasn’t medically classified as “addictive” until 1994. No clue why it took so long, since caffeine has been around for quite some time.
Like all drugs, your body builds a tolerance. Your body adjusts to your steady caffeine intake, and in order to keep getting positive effects from caffeine, you’ll have to increase your daily dose of caffeine.
However, a large majority of people don’t consume caffeine for its perks, but rather to keep withdrawals at bay.
To show how far caffeine addiction has gone, studies have proven the we are not just physically addicted to coffee but also mentally. Give someone a cup of the finest dark coffee and they’ll perk up even if you handed them decaf.
People hooked on caffeine equate caffeine with alertness, regardless of it actually working.
Ups & Downs
People repeat the cycle of caffeine, then withdrawals day in and day out, all while having to increase their caffeine intake to have any noticeable effects.
Why do we do this?
Within our brain contains a neurotransmitter called adenosine that promotes sleep, muscle fatigue, and suppresses arousal (a good thing for the human body).
Caffeine, however, blocks these adenosine receptors, giving you a jolt of energy and higher alertness.
Eventually you’ll have a large amount adenosine floating around your brain cells. Also, in response to the caffeine intake, more and more adenosine neurotransmitters are sent out via the brain. This all requires more and more caffeine to negate or overcome the adenosine transmitters creating your so called “tolerance”.
If you haven’t experienced the wonderful withdrawal symptoms of caffeine, consider yourself fortunate. They whoop everyone’s a**, including myself. The large buildup of adenosine, combined with going cold turkey with caffeine, result in a really bad time.
Life Without Caffeine
For medical reasons, I gave up caffeine. No tapering off, just old fashion cold turkey.
I can’t remember the last time I gave up caffeine for more than a few days, and didn’t think twice about it. No caffeine, no problem.
The first twelve hours caffeine free were annoying, but by day two, withdrawal symptoms kicked in hard. Migraines, muscle fatigue, sleepiness, lack of energy, and the list goes on. What made it worse was that I had no idea what was causing my symptoms, and started stressing out.
I accidently took caffeine one day, and felt like a king. I looked down at the ingredient list on the back of my drink, and in big black letters read, “CAFFEINE”.
I realized that these past few hellish days were because of caffeine withdrawals. Studies have shown that it takes on average 2-9 days of no caffeine to overcome withdrawals. Some people take months, depending on your intake and consistency.
My withdrawal symptoms took one week to go away. But the benefits! How amazing they were.
I no longer had alternating energy levels throughout the day. No more highs and lows. Just good, steady energy.
I had much better sleep at night. You hear people say, “Caffeine doesn’t affect my sleep.”, but they’ve never gotten off caffeine to notice a difference.
No caffeine (combined with other things) lowered my blood pressure.
Now, drinking anything over 50 mg of caffeine in one sitting makes me way too jittery to get any actual tasks done.
If I do have caffeine, it’s in low dosages. I’ll drink decaf coffee, or occasionally drink kombucha or green tea.
I no longer believe that caffeine is worth the short term benefits after coming out of the other side of withdrawals. I highly consider you, the reader, to try and experiment life without caffeine for yourself!
Hope you all enjoyed this week’s blog post! If you’ve missed the last post on buzzing off my hair, click here.
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“Don’t pollute your own body.”
Book of the Month: “1984” by George Orwell