Breaking one of America’s Biggest Addictions: Caffeine


Two¬†years ago, I was addicted to caffeine in any shape or form, whether it be coffee, energy drinks, soda, gum, and I even tried breath mints with caffeine. It was a daily part of my life, consumed 2-4 times daily through coffee, candy, soda and energy drinks. I stopped drinking energy drinks and soda almost entirely(occasional partaking when I am in dire need of energy) and haven’t had caffeine-based gum or breath mints since college. While caffeine and coffee both have great health benefits, they can also cause some major issues in life. The average working class person drinks coffee every day and often, more than one cup per day.

I used to go down the path of “the morning ritual” before engaging in any social activity or any productive work. I would fire up my Keurig machine every morning right when I woke up, load a coffee cup, and grab my coffee to go on the way out the door. For the first three years I was doing this in college, it was a miracle drink. I could think faster, handle more stress, and accomplish tasks quicker. About 2 years ago, I started noticing a decline in the effectiveness of this miracle drink. One cup of coffee brought me to an average level of performance, two cups would give me the boost I desired. I was quick to realize that I had a minor addiction to coffee, just like everyone else who enjoyed this beverage. Most of the time, when a person gets used to the effects of a drug, or it “normalizes” them, they need to up the dosage to get the same desired effects.

I’m not one to judge others, but I believe that a dependency on an external chemical like caffeine is no different than a dependency on nicotine, alcohol or other drugs that might be illegal. I wasn’t going to allow myself to develop a need to consume a chemical. In addition, I was somewhat afraid that all the sugar and cream I was drinking with the coffee was an unhealthy choice as well; not because I don’t believe in consuming “junk food”(I love cookies, I eat them more often than I should), but rather that I didn’t want to pair unhealthy food choices with the beverage that I was dependent on. I could control my junk food intake by simply abstaining from delicious treats, but when it came to coffee, I felt a need to consume it instead of a desire.

I’ve found a healthy balance in caffeine intake. I have a daily cup of white leaf tea, which has a tiny amount of caffeine; a mere 28mg. When you consider the average cup of coffee has well over 100mg of caffeine, white leaf tea is next to nothing.

Now, I’m not claiming that coffee is causing health issues, but too much of anything can cause health issues. In fact, small amounts of caffeine is considered healthy. It can help fight type 2 diabetes, has antioxidants, helps prevent Parkinson Disease later in your life, and is also good for your mental health. My major issue is that people combine sugar and heavy cream with their coffee, and enjoy more than one cup of coffee per day. I’ll let a famous web comic on The Oatmeal show you what I mean:

coffee-comic-the-oatmeal

Now, I still drink coffee, just not daily. I would estimate my consumption at around 3-4 times a month. I try to go minimalist on sugar and have switched cream for milk when possible. I have truly enjoyed the benefits of coffee by limiting my intake to the point of where one cup of coffee provides the stimulation I need to perform.