How do you feel about addictive substances?

Should they be banned? Outlawed? Shanghai-ed?

Maybe you’re cool with it — “it’s groovy, baby”.

Before I trigger any nostalgia fests, let me clear things up: I’m not talking about illegal substances.


But just because it’s legal, that doesn’t mean it’s good for you

Well, obviously, right? Take cigarettes, for example. Everyone knows that they’re bad for you (including the surgeon general). But it’s a free country, and if people over 18 want to smoke cigarettes, they can (unless they’re inside a building in California).

But that’s not what I’m talking about, either. We all know about Oreos (okay, maybe you didn’t — I just thought I’d sneak that in there), MSG and random food additives that we should avoid. But what about something more mainstream? What about something that 90{7ccf5d7f440a8c0a4dff3df5bb9cc0bab88c0e4cf23a41541a36431e043fd86c} of Americans consume each day?

I’m talking, of course, about caffeine.


Oh no, he’s going to tell me to stop drinking coffee!

Congratulations! If you are still reading this, you have what it takes to kick your habit.
I know, you need your coffee to help wake you up in the morning. You need it to help you push through that paper/application/ceremony.

But did you know there are people like you that wake up every morning without coffee? Who don’t get an afternoon slump? Who don’t get headaches because there was no caffeine to wear off in the first place?

Hard to believe, I know.

But if they can do it (and I’m one of them), then so can you.


Prepare for the caffeine roast

  • Caffeine is a drug. It affects your brain just like cocaine or heroin, just with lesser effects.
  • Caffeine keeps you from sleeping. Sleep is an important part of being (and feeling) healthy. When you sleep, your brain detoxes itself.
  • Caffeine makes you pee a lot. It’s a diuretic, so if your bladder wakes you up in the middle of the night or you are afraid of long meetings, this could be why.
  • You can overdose on caffeine. You’d probably have to be trying to do it, but concentrated forms of caffeine can be quite dangerous.
  • It’s expensive. If you drink a cup of coffee every morning, at $1.38 per cup that’s over $500 per year. And specialty drinks just go up from there.


You’re making it sound like caffeine is the worst thing ever

Way too much caffeine

Don’t do it. Just say no.

Okay, I do have one positive thing to say about caffeine. Studies have shown that small amounts of caffeine can increase focus and reflexes. But those studies also show that there is a threshold, and once you cross it, you get jittery and can’t focus anymore.

I know that I don’t like to be beholden to any substance — I’d rather be and feel healthy on an ongoing basis.

If you wake up groggy, maybe a Monster drink isn’t the answer — it might be that you should just go to bed earlier. But the more caffeine you intake, the more you perpetuate the problem.

Caffeine is addictive, though it’s easier to quit than more serious drugs. You still might have withdrawals for a couple days, though (depending on how much you normally drink).


Okay, okay, I’ll cut back on the caffeine

Great! I was hoping you’d say that. You don’t necessarily need to quit completely (though I recommend trying). If you drink a lot of coffee or energy drinks, do yourself a favor and cut back.

Try to go down from two or three cups per day to just one. Reduce the number of espresso shots in your drink. Only drink half of your energy drink (seriously, those things are huge — no one needs that much caffeine).

Combine lower caffeine intake with more healthy food choices throughout the day (more fruits and veggies), and you’ll hopefully avoid that midday crash when the caffeine wears off.

When your body is healthy, it will take care of you and help you accomplish whatever you need to do. But first, you have to take care of your body.

Do you drink a lot of caffeine? Have you ever tried cutting back?


Some more caffeine facts:

Coffee Drinking Statistics
Caffeine Facts Infographic
Wikipedia Entry for Caffeine