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Caffeine levels double when quitting smoking

by John R. Polito, founder of WhyQuit and author of "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home"

coffee cup labeled WhyQuit, an Internet quitting forum, with cigarettesAmazingly, nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. Smokers trying to quit were randomly assigned to either caffeine-use or caffeine-abstinence conditions in a 1997 study published in Addictive Behaviors. "Results showed a significant linear increase in caffeine sputum levels across 3 weeks post cessation for those who quit smoking and continued using caffeine. Three weeks after cessation, concentrations reached 203% of baseline for the caffeine user."

Imagine ending all nicotine use, continuing to drink the exact same amount of caffeine and at 21 days having twice as much caffeine circulating in your bloodstream.

Although it could potentially be of serious concern to heavy caffeine users -- defined by the Mayo Clinic as 500 to 600 mg. of caffeine daily, or 4 to 7 cups of coffee -- withdrawal syndrome assessment in this study suggests that a doubling of caffeine intake probably shouldn't concern most quitters.

"It is possible that some people's tolerances with caffeine may have fluctuated back and forth over time after quitting," says Joel Spitzer, a 30-year full-time quitting counselor and education director at WhyQuit.com.

The question may be, can the quitter handle drinking twice their normal caffeine intake without experiencing additional anxiety, shaking, insomnia, gastric or digestive disturbance? Keep in mind when attempting to go to sleep that a cup of tea before bed may now pack twice the punch.

"Anyone who feels jittery after a few days of quitting should examine his or her caffeine consumption levels. Many find that they cannot tolerate caffeine consumption at prequit levels," says Spitzer. "If you are experiencing a jittery feeling you may want to experiment with reducing quantity or strength of caffeinated drinks or products."

But aside from finding that few caffeine drinkers have anything to worry about, another lesson from the 1997 study is that trying to end all caffeine use when ending nicotine use results in a significant increase in fatigue and decrease in stimulation.

If concerned that elevated caffeine levels are causing added anxiety, applying the 1997 study's finding of a doubling suggests that, at least temporarily, a caffeine reduction of roughly half may be of benefit.

But jitters or no jitters, remember, it is impossible to relapse and fail so long as the bloodstream remains 100% nicotine-free. Upon ending all nicotine use there's just one rule ... no nicotine today, Never Take Another Puff, Dip or Chew.







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  • WhyQuit.com's coffin bannerWhyQuit.com - WhyQuit is the Internet's oldest forum devoted to the art, science and psychology of cold turkey quitting, the stop smoking method used by the vast majority of all successful long-term ex-smokers. Left to right, WhyQuit is organized under three headings: (1) Motivation, (2) Education and (3) Support.
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  • "Freedom from Nicotine - The Journey Home" - Written by John R. Polito, a former 30-year heavy smoker and WhyQuit's 1999 founder, Freedom from Nicotine (FFN) is a free nicotine dependency recovery book that documents the science underlying nicotine dependency and successful cessation. Visit Turkeyville, Facebook's most popular quit smoking support group!Whether hooked on cigarettes, e-cigarettes (e-cigs), bidis, kreteks, a pipe, hookah or cigars, on dip, chew, snuff or snus, or on the nicotine gum, lozenge, spray, inhaler or patch, FFN provides a comprehensive yet easy to follow road-map to freedom from nicotine.
  • Turkeyville - Visit Turkeyville, Facebook's most popular quit smoking support group. The group's primary focus is the first few days and helping new quitters get started. Yes you can!
  • Joel's Library - Joel's Library is home to Joel Spitzer's "Daily Quitting Lesson Guide." The Guide walks new quitters through the first two weeks of smoking cessation, recommending daily videos to watch and articles to read. Joel's Library is also home to more than 100 original short stop smoking articles, to his free ebook Never Take Another Puff, and to his collection of more than 200 video stop smoking lessons.
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  • Freedom's small link banner Freedom - Looking for a deadly serious and highly focused education oriented support group? Home to Joel Spitzer, Freedom is the Internet's only 100% nicotine-free peer messageboard support forum. Explore Freedom's hundreds of thousands of archived member posts on how to quit smoking.
  • Nicotine Cessation Topic Index - An alphabetical subject matter index to hundreds of nicotine cessation support group discussions, article and videos.
  • 40 Quitting Tips - Key cold turkey nicotine cessation tips on how to stop smoking, vaping, chewing or sucking nicotine into your body and bloodstream.

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Written April 14, 2007 and page last updated November 24, 2012 by John R. Polito