Withdrawal as Dysfunction

9I had a conversation with someone recently who told me she had quit drinking tea a while ago. She’d been consuming four cups a day and said she was surprised at the severity of the withdrawal symptoms she experienced. Discovering an Internet forum for caffeine withdrawal, she found she was far from alone, and told me she was astounded at how addictive it was for so many people.

I’ve quit caffeine a few times in the past but never did have any trouble with that. I don’t see much difference for me whether I do or don’t drink tea or coffee, so I simply don’t have any good reasons to stay away from it. I tend to drink one cup of each per day, so perhaps the key, at least for me and at the present time, is to keep consumption low.

However, the previous week I’d been reading about adrenal dysfunction, and I was struck by the similarity of symptoms. The symptoms on the left, below, are of adrenal dysfunction, and those on the right of caffeine withdrawal (1):

waking at night  —   difficulty staying asleep
foggy thinking   —    brain fog
low energy   —   lethargy
confusion   —   poor concentration
headaches   —   headaches
mood swings   —   very low mood
body aches, night sweats   —    flu-like symptoms
lack of motivation or enjoyment of life   —   hopelessness

Not everyone experiences all of these together, but you can see they are describing the same things.

I could be putting two and two together and making six, but it makes sense that adrenal dysfunction develops (and at the same time is covered up) through the overuse of stimulants such as caffeine. What tends to happen – and it’s very common – is that people ‘correct’ low energy with some widely used, socially acceptable stimulants. Caffeine is one of them and tobacco another, but no doubt the most widely used are sugar, and, at least for some people, gluten and/or wheat. And of course it’s common to do many or all of these together at one, highly energizing coffee break!

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