Decaf Just To Recaf Pt. 1

This is at least the 10th time I’ve given up caffeine in my 30ish years on this earth. I really did reach the point last week where I was saying, “Why is my body doing all this crazy shit? It’s not like I had a cup of coffee, 3 Pepsi Max, and a grande Starbucks iced Soy Latte before 5pm or anything. No wait, that exactly what I had EVERY DAY AND IT IS KILLING ME.”

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Hyberbole aside, I really felt like I was vibrating. The weird thing is I have never given two shits about caffeine. I just enjoy the many of the liquids they often package it in. My softdrink of choice for years has been Pepsi Max due to the zeroes of calories and its not having the assbutt taste of most diet sodas. Though I always forget the “Max” is referring to the “MAXimum chance of stroke due to the methamphetamine level of stimulants in this can.” So, at least for now, I am off the juice. I have stocked up on decaf coffee, tea and less than desirable sodas. There’s an old adage about work for hire. Out of Good, Cheap and Fast you can pick two, but you can never have all three. Sodas are the same way. Out of tasting good, having no calories and being caffeine free you are lucky if you get to pick two. There does not exist an option that covers all three bases.

My eye is stil twitching but I think that’s because I need new glasses. I was really hoping my declining eyesight would plateau at some point instead of getting worse almost exactly every 12 months. I sort of need my eyes to do this job.

COMMENTERS: Any stories about excessive caffeine intake accidental or on purpose? Any milestone event that forced you to give the stuff up? Any suggestions for alternative drinks to help sort out my hyper-agitated organs?

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35 Comments

  1. i had a ridiculous amount of caffeine when i was playing a 40+ hour session of poker, and had to stop playing not because i was tired, but b'c i started shaking from the caffeine.

  2. Someone that I know used to drink just water and probably live healthy because of that. About a year ago he had a couple of exams coming up and started drinking buckets of coffee to stay awake on those sessions… My best friend had classes with him and started to note the white of his eyes had turned yellow and warned him about it. The guy went to see the doctor and asked about any changes he made to his diet and he told he had started to drink loads of coffee. And presto, that was the problem, his liver couldn't process the amount of coffee and caffeine he had been taking in. He was told to cut down a little on the coffee intake.

  3. Ah yes. Getting older makes you realize you are not immortal anymore. My hunny cannot tolerate more than a half a cup of reg.. coffee after a meal anymore. I myself went from insane amounts of caffeine AND amphetamines when I was under 18 to just a cup or two per day. And I am 46. Instead, I mix it up with Blenheim's Ginger Ale (spicy and made w/ sugar, not the corn syrup) and my Hunney gets Empire Cola (It's a small family run company, so you will have to contact a dealer near you to get it like http://www.realsoda.net/42-empire-cola.html) It's not cheap, but neither am I. Plus, I have gotten over the "suffering needlessly in denial" phase of my life. Just my two pesos.

  4. Since you're in Texas, you can do what I did while I was in San Antonio over the summer and on a caffeine-mostly-free diet: buy HEB's sparkling waters. They've got a hojillion flavors, and I tried them all and virtually all of them were excellent. They're water — everything-free water, but they taste like delicious soda. They come in 1L bottles for… 57 cents, if memory serves. I highly recommend the white grape and the peach.

    • I don't think Joel's in the HEB-ruled part of Texas. Which for me is just…kind of defeats the whole point of living here, but some of our countrymen DO dare the HEB-less frontier.

      Sparkling water is generally good though! A caffeine -avoiding friend swears by diet-caffeine-free Dr. Pepper, and diet root beers.

      I like herbal tea– but you know regular tea has the speed force, right? Green, too. It's just a more diffuse and mellow dosing.

      • We have Central Market, but not regular HEBs, and the Central Market locations are pretty spread out. It kind of sucks. I can't stand unflavored, unsweetened sparkling water, though. I haven't tried caffeine-free Dr. Pepper, but the regular Diet Dr. Pepper is OK. Not great, but pretty good. It was one of the beverages that helped me get by when trying to get off sugar, but not caffeine. (One thing at a time, right?) Black tea is still a lot healthier way to get caffeine than sodas.

        • Diet Dr. Pepper is actually the only standard diet soda I can stomach. I picked up a pack of the stuff (caffeine free) to get me over the hump.

          • I had to give up all caffeine due to a medication conflict with it many years ago and I still can't really handle it anymore, just from being off it for so long. Even just regular black tea makes me kinda spazzy these days.

            But 7-up and Sprite are caffeine-free, as is Mug Root Beer. I BELIEVE that the A&W root beer and Barq's is as well. And they're all tasty.

            Also, if you're looking for a decent hot drink, Tetley's decaf Orange Pekoe and decaf Earl Grey are both really decent. I put a bag of each into a teapot, and don't forget that the water must be boilING when you add it. Good stuff. Have cream with it. Milk isn't the same. Lemons only belong in iced tea. 😉

            Eventually the craving and the draggy-assedness in the mornings DOES go away, so hang in there. Good luck!

  5. I've kicked the habit a few times. I finally found that if I stick with one cup of black tea each day I can function, but without the background hum of my brain running around my skull at faster-than-light speeds. That said, I still crave Starbucks lattes. A lot. And I miss the days when I could have a large coffee before bedtime without it affecting my sleep schedule. Now if I have caffeine after 3 in the afternoon I'm awake staring at the ceiling until dawn.

  6. You ask about excessive caffeine intake, accidental or otherwise. I remember my first, and last, experience with a Monster energy drink. I was up in the Haight here in San Francisco on my way to the local Cala Foods for a copy of the latest Harry Potter (I think it was Half-Blood Prince). They were giving out free samples near where I got off the bus. I had never tried one, mostly seeking out Mt. Dew or Jolt for programming runs. Well, it was free…. I drank as I walked down the street. A bit like a very bad parody of a Mt. Dew in terms of flavor, I thought. Well, then it hit. My eyeballs started vibrating in different directions and I started getting a bit scared. I got my book, and after about hour I was pretty much back to normal. I now look to Pepsi Max (a bit safer for me since I am diabetic and I hate the taste of Diet Dew) for my needs during programming. I did recently hear that BevMo has Jolt. That is a powerful temptation….

    • They changed the Diet Dew flavor a while back, so it tastes less like malted battery acid, but I understand why you may not like it…it's an acquired taste.

      I can't drink regular Red Bull; that stuff tastes like a combination between pure liquid SweeTarts and Spree all in one tiny can…if it's the Diet Red Bull cut with real cranbery juice, that I can handle.

      Monster isn't good, IMO, but Rockstar Zero Carb is actually quite tasty.

  7. You’re detoxing. You really shouldn’t do that without medical supervision. Most people don’t realize it, but caffeine is an honest-to-god drug. It’s a powerful stimulant that is highly addictive. You can’t just stop that shit when you’re been using the levels of it you have been.

  8. Back in highschool I made the mistake of staying up all night before school, since I had been up for about 24 hours before classes even started I knew I was going to need a little caffeine. So I stopped by a convenience store and bought an entire case of Bawls energy drink. All 24 were gone by the end of lunch, and on my way to class it temporarily felt like my heart was going to burst from my chest and slap me for the amount of stimulants I'd ingested.
    It passed after a few seconds and I vowed no more caffeine. That lasted till I woke up the next day.

  9. My husband tried to kill me with caffeine the day after our wedding. I kid you not. We ended up with both cars at the hotel where we honeymooned (the next town over) and had to caravan home. We stopped for Starbucks on the way and I didn't pay attention when he was ordering the drinks. He got me an iced mocha, which already has espresso shots in it, and added another four shots not realizing how sensitive I am to it. I drank maybe a third of it while I was driving, but I stopped because I started feeling funny.

    He said I started swerving in my lane like a drunk driver, but we got home safely. I got up to the apartment and told him that I didn't feel well: I was shaky, sweaty, cold, and my heart felt like it was trying to jump out of my chest. I flopped on the bed and didn't wake up til the next morning. He had to call my boss and my professor to tell them that I wasn't going to make it in that night because he almost killed me. The Prof thought it was funny and played his message for the class to hear; they all called me "Espresso" for the rest of the semester…

  10. I ised to pop 2-3 caffine tablets into a can of redbull, when I needed to pull an all nighter at uni. 'Course, I overdid it a little when all my assignments were due in (I was even dissolving the caffine tabs in beer at that point…) I ended up not sleeping for a week… Not because I didn't want or need to, but because I physically couldn't due to the levels of stimulants in my blood.

    • Caffiene gum…tried that as well and it was actually coffee beans in a gum-esque base, with maybe a binding agent.
      That, at the time, was the worst thing I'd ever willing put in my mouth, and was totally useless. Going to a grocery store and buying whole coffee beans to chew would've been a mild improvment.

  11. During my penultimate year in high school (well, the German equivalent), someone in my class discovered that you could buy caffeine pills at the pharmacy next door for very little money. They were especially fun if someone brought in a bottle of bubbly to wash them down with (the legal drinking age for wine and beer is 16 in Germany, so we were only breaking school rules, not Da Law). I had to stop after a week because I was having stomach cramps and hot flashes, my pulse was racing, and I nearly fainted while giving a presentation in front of the class.

  12. "I was really hoping my declining eyesight would plateau at some point instead of getting worse almost exactly every 12 months."

    I KNOW, right? I just got a new eye Rx last week and asked the doctor if my prescription should be changing this much now that I'm thirty. He said that, basically, when you're nearsighted your eyesight can keep deteriorating for the rest of your life, and that I should get it checked at least every other year. (And that eyestrain is probably what's been giving me these damn headaches.) Great.

    According to my calculations, if my eyes keep declining at the current rate I'll be wearing Hans Moleman cokebottle glasses when I'm fifty. How long til they invent Retinox 5?

    • The trick is that glasses usually make your vision worse over time, as your eyes begin to rely on the corrective lenses to focus. They get lazy. My sight's gone straight to hell since I got glasses.

      I know that the whole "America's Best" chain-store style of "two pair for cheap" is tempting, but if things really are getting a lot worse you may want to see a real-deal ophthalmologist. You can re-train your eyes for certain defects. Others just have to be outright repaired, whether via surgery or other interesting methods. They actually make a contact lens that can reshape your cornea! Stuff's wild.

  13. The worst I ever did was make instant coffee with Pepsi…using about 12 scoops of coffee to the one can of soda. Not only did the sludge taste like burnt mud and battery acid, but the tachycardia lasted for about 18 hours. I slept 2 days later.

  14. The first time I ever tried coffee, I was 14 and full of bravado, so I ordered a quad shot espresso. Awesome, right?? That ought to impress everyone!

    Later that night, I was sitting up straight in bed with an irregular heartbeat. Occasionally, my heart would *flutter*, like bum, bum, bumbum, bum, bumbumbum, bum. It scared me shitless.

    I'm drinking an espresso as I type this.

  15. In high school, I had a large coffee in home room every morning. My second period teacher threatened to cancel my honors project if I didn't quit because she couldn't stand my crash in her class. Lucky me, my current job requires caffeine 24/7! I even get free coffee when in uniform 🙂

  16. Joel: Periodic rests for the eyes are super-important! My eyes were losing focus and doing weird things and I saw an ophthalmologist who just said, "Do you rest them when you're studying for long periods of time?" And I was like, "Oh. Right." So, every 20 minutes of reading/working/computering, stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. It's like magic.

    An acquaintance of mine had a really bad experience with one of those 5-hour energy shots. Essentially he turned bright red and hallucinated for five hours. Turns out he was on Adderall for his ADHD, and it caused him to have a really bad reaction to whatever's in those things.

    Meanwhile, my fiancé's brother runs on a combination of insane amounts of caffeine (we're talking multiple Monsters and Amps a DAY), nicotine, alcohol and spite. Logically he should be dead by now. He's only 22.

  17. My fiance decided when he was 12 to down an entire 12 pack of Coke in a very short amount of time. Apparently there was vomiting and heart palpitations for caffeine poisoning (his dad's a doctor)…I swear he's gotten smarter now.

  18. fanta zero (bright, BRIGHT orange) and sprite zero are *great*, no caffeine, sugar or calories. all three, with the possible exception of "fast" because you can't get fanta zero except once in a blue moon (possibly because whenever it's in the campus store, i buy every bottle) – sunkist zero (or whatever they call their diet orange) is passable. sprite zero is my all time favourite – i had to switch from diet coke due to shakiness and needing to get to sleep hours before the PM diet cokes wore off.

  19. Back when Red Bull first became available in the states me and two of my buddies all went in on a case of the stuff.

    Let me just say this, buying 24 cans of Red Bull and splitting it between three pals, good idea.

    Slamming 8 cans of Red Bull each to see how strong it is, not so much.

  20. I've actually consumed my body weight in Mt. Dew while playing RPGs (the paper & dice ones, not something digital).
    Granted, I several tens of pounds lighter, and a decade or so younger, so there you go.
    And no, I don't recommend doing that.

    We used to consume buckets of Jolt back in the day as well…one of my friends made the comment after we graduated college that he had to stop drinking it because it was messing with his heart beat.
    I eventually stopped drinking it because they change the recipie and it started tasting like the hot buttered moose ass it really was, so at least I know it hasn't killed me by now.

  21. I got one of those carbonator dealies, and I'm enjoying it. (I wanted energy drinks that didn't taste like ass, so I experimented around and found that the component with the distinctive demon's-jockstrap flavor is in fact the B-vitamins, so I omit those from the drink and take a supplement instead.) The sample syrups that came with the thing were not bad, but I've been mixing my own. I don't know how well Splenda intended for baking does in a homemade simple syrup, but it might be worth looking into.

    The first time I went off caffeine was the time I was working, helping babysit my roommate's kid, and going to school, all pretty much full time. I wasn't getting much sleep. One morning I staggered into the cafeteria, faceplanted on the table, roused briefly when my best friend held an ice-cold can of Dew to the back of my neck, chugged it, and faceplanted again until it was time for class. I figured that if I didn't wake the hell up from that, there was something wrong with my base level of caffeine intake. Happily I was not quite to the same level of caffeine-dependent, because the only notable physical symptoms were being sleepier, and cranky.

    Then there was the caffeine intoxication, where I'd been drinking something I called "The Goddess Brew", which consisted of a half-pint of milk into which had been mixed about a quarter cup each of instant coffee, hot chocolate mix, and sugar, plus some black licorice jellybeans. I had also been having some chocolate-covered espresso beans. I stopped drinking the Brew around 10 at night when I went out to cause some ruckus with friends. We got back late and I was still wired, heart palpitations and so tired I could cry because I needed the sleep, 10am, and I still couldn't. It was entertaining.

  22. I'm a pretty heavy water-only drinker. All this year I haven't drunk a single coffee, and maybe a half-dozen caffinated soda drinks, so I have next-to-no resistance to caffine. Just didn't grow up with the stuff so never got into the habit.

    Last year I did a course training to be a barrista; we made about 12 different types of coffee drink (latte, espresso, etc), and had to taste each after to understand how properly brewed coffee was suppose to taste. I had to stop after the 7th because my heart was beating painfully and I was getting the shakes. I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack at 19 years of age.

    2-3 hours later, as the class was wrapping up, I began to crash, and I felt really tired. I had dinner with friend afterwards, and we called it early and she drove me home because I was so out of it. When I got home I went straight to bed and slept for 12 hours straight, after which I felt fine. But the experiance kind of freaked me off coffee permanently.

    Won't go near energy drinks at all. It kind of scares me that people drink them recreationally, but maybe I'm somewhat alone in planning to live to 100.

  23. I drink soda, but regulate my intake. If I have an energy drink (Monster, Rockstar, ect.) I consume no more caffeine for the rest of the day. When I have a soda, I may have another one, but no more than two! (usually taken with meals)

    The key is to learn when you need the energy and take them only when you need it, so that you're not running on an energy "high" from anticipatory stacking, but at a normal level of alertness at the appropriate time.

    A freind of mine once told me he knew a guy who died from caffeine overdose. It didn't sound fun.

  24. My moment of "this semi-legal crack substitute might kill me" was when I accidentally drank a twelve pack of coke in one afternoon. My problem is the same as yours Joel, I like the taste of caffinated products. So, my family and friends kinda forced me through caffine detox, and now I'm fine. *twitch*

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