My caffeine dependency is spiraling out of control. I need coffee before doing anything and carry a thermos of it with me at all times. How do I cut back without being exhausted all of the time?
There’s nothing like the academic and social stress of college to build up a desire for caffeine. And you’re not alone — research shows that Americans drink 400 million cups of coffee per day. But those lattes are more than just a sweet drink: Caffeine is classified as a chemically addicting drug. It literally changes your brain, blocking receptors from sensing tiredness and producing feelings of alertness. Some scientists say daily consumption over time changes the physical characteristics of your brain. So, I hate to break it to you, but you’re not just dependent, you’re addicted.
Be aware that drinking less coffee may produce withdrawal symptoms, so make sure you cut back gradually, drink lots of water, and take it easy on yourself. If you like tea, try drinking it instead sometimes since it has a lower caffeine content. Replace some of your daily coffees with decaf — you may be surprised at how just the taste and smell can trick your brain into feeling more alert.
Finally, examine the underlying causes of your addiction. You’re clearly tired a lot — are you getting enough sleep? Do you eat enough nutritious meals? Make sure to prioritize your health and your caffeine addiction may wane as a result.
To submit questions to Dear Dale, contact The Collegian on social media or email cabbo@hillsdale.