Overcoming Your Coffee Addiction

The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce.

-Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., “Over the Teacups,” 1891

When you consider the amount of coffee Americans drink, it is staggering. You only need to look at the abundance of coffee shops and realize how large the coffee drinking market is.

Coffee is a socially-acceptable addiction. It’s something that people laugh at when they say, “Oh, I’m sooo addicted to coffee.”

I’m not trying to put all the coffee shops out of business. In fact, I drink coffee myself—one cup per day (just like good ol’ William Muldoon). Yet, there is a difference between needing coffee and not being able to control the amount you consume and having a preference for a small amount of coffee.

The need for coffee means that you need stimulation. Requiring stimulation means that you’re not in optimal health. Either you’re not well-rested, you have transgressed with your diet, or you don’t get sufficient exercise or fresh air.

One of the first things to remember when it comes to coffee is you don’t need it—and that if you do, then there is something wrong. You shouldn’t need to get artificial energy. And, in reality, it’s not artificial energy at all, caffeine just stimulates your body to produce more energy. It’s real energy all right, it forces your body to make more energy—and can be devitalizing in the process.

Pay Attention—Develop an Awareness

Awareness is always the first step, and with shedding coffee addiction, the awareness is that you are ingesting something that is not needed and it is devitalizing in excess. Additionally, you should start to pay attention to how you feel after drinking coffee. Note the stimulation. Note what happens to your blood pressure and your heart rate. Pay attention.

Work with this for a while—pay attention to your consumption, create an awareness that coffee is unnecessary, and notice how you feel when you have it. Track how much coffee you are consuming. You don’t have to change anything, just be aware of the extent of the habit.

While you’re working on this, you should simultaneously be forming a desire for less coffee. Imagine yourself free from having to have a cup of coffee all the time. Think of the money saved. Think of no longer staining your teeth. Think of saving your endocrine system from enervation.

The Drawdown

The thing with cutting back on caffeine is that you get a headache. So, I prefer to drawdown. First I reduce coffee. Then I substitute black tea. Then I switch to green tea. Then I go to Dandy Blend.

Occasionally I do this just to make sure my choice to have coffee in the morning is really a choice. With one cup, you don’t get too much of a withdrawal headache, so I can simply switch to Dandy Blend and see what happens.

The 30 Day Challenge

Once you can go without caffeine, then it’s a good idea to do a 30 day challenge. Go 30 days without any form of caffeine whatsoever. You want to be in control of what you ingest and this is the beginning of having control over it.

The Key to Coffee—Appreciate It and Be Grateful—Don’t Abuse It

After the 30 day challenge, you can decide to go back to coffee and caffeine, but with new perspective. You should enjoy it and be grateful for it. Rather than slurping it down, recognize the coffee for the blessing it is. Try just having the coffee and doing nothing else. In other words, don’t guzzle the coffee down on the way to work.

Take time and make a good cup of coffee and savor it in the morning. Over-abundance of something creates its own challenges. Because we have a plentitude of coffee, we take it for granted. But, coffee, and the caffeine and whatever else it contains that seems to make it so magical, is a powerful drug. Respect it, and you’ll get more enjoyment out of it.

Watch your thoughts. If you find yourself obsessing over that cup of coffee, well, it may be time for a drawback.

P.S. Although the title is coffee addiction, this applies generically to caffeine addiction.