11.21.2005

One really, REALLY unexpected concequence from leaving my job:

I had a really bad caffeine withdrawl crash last week.

Now, I know it sounds ridiculous. First, who the heck has caffeine withdrawl, and second, how bad could it possibly be?

Well, while working at my old job, I went through - and this is no lie, everyone who worked with me can confirm - at least 2 pots of coffee a day. By myself. I drank it like crazy, every single day of the week, for about 4 years (with the exception of certain holidays or vacation where I didn't have access to a coffee maker, whereupon I'd go in search of the nearest diner or Starbucks to get my fix).

It's usually presumed that a regular cup of coffee contains 100mg of caffeine. A usual pot of coffee contains 12 cups of coffee, meaning 1200mg of caffeine. Two pots a day = 2400mg of caffeine A DAY that I was ingesting (on most days).

When I left my job a week and a half ago, I didn't bother to clean out my old coffee maker or make provisions for my coffee habit. I subsisted mostly on Propel water (shut up, it's really good and does the whole "give you liquids" job pretty well) and diet Barq's root beer. After the weekend, I started to notice this pretty intense yet dull headache forming at the base of my neck.

It lasted a week. It was like a migrane, only you can actually function during it - albeit poorly. A weeklong headache throbbing in your ears at the base of your neck... It's very not good.

It's finally died down a good bit. The way I know it had to be caffeine withdrawl - the only other time in my life I've felt anything like this was when I was doing the Atkins diet about 4 years ago, and I quit caffeine cold turkey. I felt like CRAP for about 4 days when someone finally explained why - my body was going through withdrawl.

From CoffeeFaq:


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What are the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal?

Regular caffeine consumption reduces sensitivity to caffeine. When caffeine intake is reduced, the body becomes oversensitive to adenosine. In response to this oversensitiveness, blood pressure drops dramatically, causing an excess of blood in the head (though not necessarily on the brain), leading to a headache.

This headache, well known among coffee drinkers, usually lasts from one to five days, and can be alleviated with analgesics such as aspirin. It is also alleviated with caffeine intake (in fact several analgesics contain caffeine dosages).

Often, people who are reducing caffeine intake report being irritable, unable to work, nervous, restless, and feeling sleepy, as well as having a headache. In extreme cases, nausea and vomiting has also been reported.

References:

Caffeine and Health. J. E. James, Academic Press, 1991. Progress in Clinical and Biological Research Volume 158. G. A. Spiller, Ed. Alan R. Liss Inc, 1984.

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It's insane.

So, will I start it back up again, now that I'm over the "shakes"? You're goddamn right I will. I love coffee, and if this is the price I have to pay to be without it, I'm hooking up an I.V.