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Discussion, comments and links related to Joel Spitzer's cold turkey quit smoking videos

Possible changes in caffeine tolerance

Video discusses how some people find that they cannot consume the same levels of caffeine after quitting that they took while smoking without experiencing some undesired side effects.

It is possible that some people's tolerances with caffeine may have fluctuated back and forth over time after quitting. But whether it has happened to one or two other people or not really is not important. All that is important is where your body has adjusted to.

When it comes to caffeine, blood sugar issues, sleep adjustments, and other such issues, it is crucial that everyone learns to recognize his or her owns body needs and requirements after adjusting back to your non-smoking physiology. Again normal is what is normal for your body, not what is normal for the majority of other people who have quit or to other people who might be exceptions to certain rules.

Your body is getting normalized and will stay normalized for you over time as long as you never put it through the abnormal process of nicotine induced pharmacological effects or the nicotine induced withdrawal syndrome by simply knowing now to never take another puff!


Anyone who feels jittery after a few days of a quit should examine his or her caffeine consumption levels. Many find that they cannot tolerate caffeine consumption at prequit levels. If you are experiencing a jittery feeling you may want to experiment with reducing quantity or strength of caffeinated drinks or products. If you are not having these difficulties it probably is not important to alter anything now.

There is an interaction between nicotine and caffeine, just as there is an interaction with nicotine and alcohol. We discuss it here often how when people drink alcohol it causes them to lose nicotine at an accelerated pace thus resulting in heavier smoking while drinking. As I said, there is a similar situation with nicotine and caffeine–similar with one huge difference. Alcohol makes you lose nicotine, thus is responsible for smoking more when drinking.

Nicotine on the other hand interferes with the body's ability to absorb and utilize caffeine, often resulting in a person who is used to or needs to be maintaining a certain caffeine level requiring more of the products to maintain their minimum needed level. When they quit smoking and consume the same amount, that old quantity will now basically overdose them. In the case where they even increase quantity, they can experience a real overdose effect with the corresponding anxiety and sleep altering effects.

So be careful with caffeine if symptoms are going longer than a few days. It is not saying you need to get rid of it all together, just keep it in doses that don't cause unwanted effects. Your general state will likely be calmer and a feeling of overall well being that you should be able to maintain for the rest of your life as long as you always remember to keep yourself from over stimulating substances and always remember to never take another puff!


No Adjustment May be Necessary

It isn't necessary to surrender our coffee or anything else when quitting – nor pick up any new crutches either – but due to the 4,000 plus chemicals present in each burning cigarette (and in caffeine's case nicotine), a few intake adjustments may be necessary for some of us and caffeine intake could possibly be one of them.As indicated in the Swanson study (see study summary below), nicotine accelerates the rate at which caffeine is metabolized by the body. It does so to the extent that if a smoker quits using nicotine and continues to consume the exact same amount of caffeine that they did while using nicotine, that their blood serum caffeine level will double (203%).

The capacity of each of us to handle differing levels of caffeine varies greatly. If you normally drink one or two cups of coffee in succession but know from experience that you can handle three or four without experiencing unwelcomed symptoms – like the jjitters, anxiety, shaking, insomnia, or gastric and digestive disturbances – then no intake adjustment may be necessary.

On the other hand, if during those times when you did double your normal caffeine intake you did notice unwelcomed symptoms then you need to act accordingly so as not to add those symptoms to any associated with nicotine withdrawal.

Look on the bright side – it's cheaper being an ex-smoker because we only require half as much caffeine in order to get the same punch. The next few minutes are doable!


The impact of caffeine use on tobacco cessation and withdrawal

Addictive Behaviors, Jan-Feb 1997, Volume 22(1), Pages 55-68.

Swanson JA, Lee JW, Hopp JW, Berk LS.

Department of Health Promotion and Education, School of Public Health, Loma Linda University, CA 92350, USA.

Continuous caffeine consumption with smoking cessation has been associated with more than doubled caffeine plasma levels. Such concentrations may be sufficient to produce caffeine toxicity symptoms in smoking abstinence conditions.

To test whether caffeine abstinence influences smoking cessation, 162 caffeine-using smokers were enlisted from American Lung Association smoking cessation programs. Volunteers were randomly assigned by clinic to caffeine-use and caffeine-abstinence conditions and measured for 3 weeks post-smoking cessation, at 6 months and one year.

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. Typical nicotine withdrawal symptoms occurred during the first 16 days of cessation. The caffeine abstainers, but not continued users of caffeine, reported increased fatigue during the first 3 days of cessation. Among complete caffeine abstainers, compared with caffeine users, there was a significant increase in fatigue, a decrease in stimulation, and a marginal increase in caffeine craving immediately following tobacco cessation. There were no differences between the groups on other withdrawal symptoms or in cessation success at 16 days, 6 months, or 12 months.

PMID: 9022872 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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Caffeine Use

Caffeine is a mild central nervous system stimulant found in coffee beans, tea leafs and cocoa beans. The question during recovery is whether or not we can handle a doubling of our normal daily caffeine intake without experiencing "caffeine jitters" or other symptoms of over-stimulation? But why?

It's important because nicotine somehow doubles the rate by which the body depletes caffeine. What's that mean? It means that if we were drinking 2 cups of coffee while using nicotine, once nicotine use ends the stimulant effect of those two cups of coffee might now feel like 4 cups.

According to a 1997 study, "continuous caffeine consumption with smoking cessation has been associated with more than doubled caffeine plasma levels. Such concentrations may be sufficient to produce caffeine toxicity symptoms in smoking abstinence conditions." The study found "a significant linear increase in caffeine sputum levels across 3 weeks post cessation," and that "three weeks after cessation, concentrations reached 203% of baseline for the caffeine user."[1]

An earlier study found that the clearance rate of caffeine from blood plasma averaged 114 milliliters per minute in nicotine smokers and 64 milliliters per minute in non-smokers.[2]

Symptoms of caffeine intoxication have been seen with as little as 100 milligrams of caffeine daily, and may include restlessness, nervousness (anxiety), excitement, insomnia, a flushed face, increased urination and gastrointestinal complaints. Intoxication symptoms seen when more than 1 gram of caffeine is consumed per day include muscle twitching, rambling flow to thoughts and speech, irregular or rapid heartbeat, irritability and psychomotor agitation.[3]

Many of us can handle a doubling of our daily caffeine intake without getting the "jitters." But how can we tell whether the anxieties we feel are related to nicotine cessation or too much caffeine? It isn't easy. Experiment with an up to 50% reduction in daily caffeine intake if at all concerned. Be careful not to reduce normal caffeine intake by more than 50% unless you want to add the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal to those of nicotine withdrawal.

Caffeine withdrawal symptoms can include headache, fatigue, decreased energy, decreased alertness, drowsiness, decreased contentedness, depressed mood, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and a foggy mind. Symptoms typically begin 12 to 24 hours after caffeine use ends, reach peak intensity at 20 to 51 hours, and normally last 2 to 9 days.[4]

The following is a sampling of the number of milligrams (mg) of caffeine "typical" in various substances:[5]

The stimulant effects of a 24mg soft drink before bed or a 20mg chocolate bar could now feel like two sodas or two chocolate bars. Consider a modest reduction of up to one-half if experiencing difficulty falling to sleep.

Look at it this way if we were a big caffeine user it's cheaper now. We get twice the stimulation for half the price.

Breathe deep, hug hard, live long,



[1] Swanson JA, et al, The impact of caffeine use on tobacco cessation and withdrawal, Addictive Behavior, Jan-Feb 1997, Volume 22(1), Pages 55-68. [2] Joeres R, Influence of smoking on caffeine elimination in healthy volunteers and in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis, Hepatology, May-June 1988, Volume 8(3), Pages 575-579. [3] American Psychiatric Association, Caffeine Intoxication, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Version, Page 232. [4] Juliano LM, et al, A critical review of caffeine withdrawal: empirical validation of symptoms and signs, incidence, severity, and associated features, Psychopharmacology, October 2004, Volume 176(1), Pages 1-29. [5] National Institute of Health, Caffeine, National Toxicology Program, webpage updated 04/23/08,

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Reformatted 07/04/18 by John R. Polito