Symptoms of Severe Caffeine Withdrawal

Written by matthew greene
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As the most widely used and easily accessible stimulant available, caffeine has no parallel in terms of widespread addiction. From morning coffees to energy drinks, few people experience a caffeine-free existence. A low to medium level of caffeine addiction is socially acceptable, and frequently encouraged. Because of this, at some point in their lives, millions of people experience some symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. Higher tolerance and longer history of caffeine dependence can lead to severe caffeine withdrawal.


Caffeine has a half-life of eight hours in the human body. As such, caffeine withdrawal usual begins within eight to 12 hours following your last dose, with symptoms peaking between 24-48 hours. Symptoms of withdrawal can last up to a week, contingent upon your level of dependence.


Three cups of coffee per day is considered a standard dose, and ten and up is considered excessive. With the widespread use of energy drinks and supplements, caffeine intake has reached, per capita, an all-time high. An average cup of brewed coffee contains around 100 mg of caffeine; making a moderate dose approximately 300 mg per day. Obviously, brewing strength varies, making this approximation a difficult standard to uphold. Also, sodas and energy drinks can contain up to 400 mg per container, allowing for the moderate daily dose of caffeine to be exceeded with a single can.


An excessive, or even moderate, user of caffeine can experience withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal is the body's reaction to the removal of a substance or chemical upon which it has formed a dependence. Symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, while ranging from moderate to severe, are nonetheless easily recognised. Irritability is one of the most common. In fact, a person who's morning mantra is: "Leave me alone until I get at least my first cup of coffee" is a perfect example.

Loss of Concentration

Difficulty with decision making, focusing and concentration is a common caffeine withdrawal symptom. This phenomenon is easy to recognise as everyone probably knows someone who has been through caffeine withdrawal. If the thought of leaving the house or driving to work is unfathomable without first having had at least one cup of coffee, you have experienced this symptom.


From slight discomfort to debilitating migraines, headaches are a classic symptom of caffeine withdrawal. They usually occur upon sleeping later than usual, thereby missing the standard caffeine dosing time.


With more excessive levels of dependence (and thereby withdrawal), nausea is experienced. When coupled with the headache mentioned above, vomiting can occur. While severe, and indicative of high tolerance and dependence, the symptom of nausea is not rare among those dependent upon caffeine.

For Your Consideration

There are many other symptoms of caffeine withdrawal, including but not limited to: sleep disturbances, hallucination, anxiety, tachycardia, restlessness and involuntary muscle twitches. Due to the level of social dependence and widespread use, exact figures regarding caffeine dependence and withdrawal are difficult to obtain. In fact, as a result of caffeine's extraordinary accessibility, most addicts aren't aware of their condition for quite some time. Until external circumstances (pregnancy, medical procedure, or some other reason to abstain from or limit caffeine ingestion) interrupt the pattern of dosing, withdrawal may not be experienced.

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