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Chiquita Banana
12-12-2011, 12:48 AM
Hi all.

I have a character who drinks 6-7 cups of coffee a day and he's been taken (unwillingly) to a wellness retreat where there's no coffee or anything with caffeine - no aspirin either.

I've given him a massive headache and the wellness folks are doing their best to help alleviate his pain with special herbal teas and pressure point therapy. So far he's only been there one day.

My question is this: how long will he be having headaches, considering he's gone cold turkey after a 6-7 a day habit? The teas/pressure points help but I don't think they'd take away his pain completely.

Thanks in advance! I wish I could conduct this experiment on myself, but I can't stand coffee. Never could. :)

Bubastes
12-12-2011, 12:52 AM
For me, it took about 4-5 days.

mirandashell
12-12-2011, 12:53 AM
I drink coffee but I have no idea how long it would take cos I've never stopped drinking it for long enough!

The headache is evil, though.

jennontheisland
12-12-2011, 12:54 AM
At least a week. With regular naps because conciousness is caffiene dependent. I quit over winter break between semesters. Would get up at 6 am with my husband, be back asleep by 10, stay asleep until 2 or 3 when he got home, then go to bed at 9 or 10. I was also cranky as fuck.

scarletpeaches
12-12-2011, 12:55 AM
I tried kicking tea once and had an absolute corker of a headache for 4-5 days, so that shows you how much I drink. There's less caffeine in tea, of course.

I had the vaguest shadow of that headache still hanging round for nearly two weeks, no lie.

jennontheisland
12-12-2011, 12:58 AM
There's less caffeine in tea, of course.
Actually, we did caffeine extractions in one of my organic chemistry labs (classmates were joking with me that they thought I'd chop it up and snort lines of it from the lab bench) and by mass, tea had more caffiene than coffee. It all depends on how you brew it, but I use significantly more coffee per cup than I do tea.

scarletpeaches
12-12-2011, 12:59 AM
True. But there's less tea in a teabag than there is coffee in a...uh...coffeebag?

Jesus. This thread is making me thirsty. I'm gonna put the kettle on.

mirandashell
12-12-2011, 01:00 AM
I once went 8 hours without coffee and the headache got so bad I couldn't function.

jennontheisland
12-12-2011, 01:01 AM
True. But there's less tea in a teabag than there is coffee in a...uh...coffeebag?

Jesus. This thread is making me thirsty. I'm gonna put the kettle on.
Right. Teabags have maybe a tsp (5 mL) of tea, whereas coffee... I use well over 1 tbsp (15 mL), close to 2 tbsp per cup when I make coffee. But then, I like my coffee ridiculously strong.

I was merely pointing out that by mass... I am a geek.

Mclesh
12-12-2011, 01:08 AM
I've quit coffee twice. (Dark days indeed.) Both times the headaches lasted two days.

Kitti
12-12-2011, 01:09 AM
IME, with any sort of caffeine addiction (soda, chocolate, tea OR coffee), it'll take about a week to get over the effects of going cold turkey.

Chiquita Banana
12-12-2011, 01:13 AM
Goodness, thanks so much for the responses, everyone! This is so helpful. And it's especially good to know about the naps, jennontheisland. This guy (my character) is a total career obsessed type-A personality who never sleeps more than four hours a night. I can't wait to get him all freaked out about how much he's sleeping! (I feel like a sadist because I'm having so much fun torturing this character...)

Richard White
12-12-2011, 01:27 AM
Weird, I'll drink anywhere from 0 to 6 cups a day depending on my mood.

I've never had a single headache from not drinking coffee.

Snick
12-12-2011, 01:48 AM
I have stopped drinking coffee a few times, but I never go headaches from it.

Spiral
12-12-2011, 01:58 AM
I don't know if you are interested in this, but just in case :) I work in a tea shop and Honeybush (a plant from South Africa) is drank as a tea and is good for headaches. There are other herbs too...but I'd have to look them up. I could if you want.

scarletpeaches
12-12-2011, 02:11 AM
It's probably all kinds of wrong that for me, a standard breakfast is two nurofen migraine and a mug of tea.

Chiquita Banana
12-12-2011, 02:22 AM
Spiral, that's so sweet of you but I think I'm probably okay and I'd hate to trouble you. I did a little research on this and they're giving him a tea made with white willow, mint and basil. I think I'll dump either mint or basil and replace it with honeybush (the more obscure the ingredients the better). :)

leahzero
12-12-2011, 06:28 AM
Just to chime in:

The really evil, brain tumor-level migraines last two days for me, and they start after going more than about 18 hours without caffeine. Then they taper off and take about a week to subside.

And that pain is friggin' INTENSE. I've had non-caffeine-related migraines, and it's on par with that. You almost want to die.

debirlfan
12-12-2011, 06:33 AM
I used to work nights, and I drank a TON of coffee - giant cup from Bess Eaton (think Dunkin Donuts) on the way to work, another at 3am "lunch" time, and another when I got out of work - and a few cups of the crud they called coffee out of the machine in between. However - I didn't drink coffee at home. I don't really remember getting headaches, but I did sleep most of the weekends (when I wasn't working.) Finally just gave up and started drinking it at home. :)

Karen Junker
12-12-2011, 06:37 AM
I have been in this situation, sorta--and for me, the pressure point that worked the best to relieve the headache was the one between the base of the thumb and forefinger. There's a way to feel for a small lump there--you pinch it between the thumb and forefinger tips of the other hand and gradually increase the pressure, then very slowly let off the pressure. It's helped my caffeine withdrawal headaches immensely.

L.C. Blackwell
12-12-2011, 07:36 AM
Your wellness group members had better be patient people. Living with somebody going off caffeine is not for the sensitive. It can be a lot like living with this....

:troll

bettielee
12-12-2011, 07:47 AM
Oh, I just want to go rescue this pretend person.... poor thing.

But yeah, 3 days headache for me if I "go off". Which I have never once done willingly.

And the bitchiness - oh, it is of epic proportion.

shaldna
12-12-2011, 02:29 PM
I've given him a massive headache and the wellness folks are doing their best to help alleviate his pain with special herbal teas and pressure point therapy. So far he's only been there one day.

My question is this: how long will he be having headaches, considering he's gone cold turkey after a 6-7 a day habit? The teas/pressure points help but I don't think they'd take away his pain completely.



At the height of my caffeine addition I was drinking about 150 grams of instant coffee a day - that's a medium jar.

Now I'm down to about 6 cups. I don't get a 'buzz' from coffee, never have. But I get serious withdrawl if I don't have it, or don't have enough.

I stopped completely when I was pregnant and the headaches are the worst. I felt like my whole head was being squeezed, like my brain was too big for my skull.

They lasted for about a week straight. I couldn't sleep.

I started to get the shakes after the first day, it started in my hand and progressed until i was shivering all over.

By day three I was getting really bad palpatations to the extent that my doctor suggested I keep drinking small amounts of coffee so the withdrawl wouldn't pose a risk to my pregnancy.

Flicka
12-12-2011, 02:46 PM
I drink tons of coffee - usually kick off with four espressos + milk in the morning and I can easily drink four times that. It varies. I've gone cold turkey many times and usually get a vague headache the first day but that's the only reaction I ever got. I've never experienced a caffeine high from coffee - it does zero to wake me up and I can have three ristrettos and sleep like a baby so maybe I'm not typical?

Flicka
12-12-2011, 02:57 PM
Goodness, thanks so much for the responses, everyone! This is so helpful. And it's especially good to know about the naps, jennontheisland. This guy (my character) is a total career obsessed type-A personality who never sleeps more than four hours a night. I can't wait to get him all freaked out about how much he's sleeping! (I feel like a sadist because I'm having so much fun torturing this character...)

This used to me be me and let me tell you, I NEED more than four hours sleep. I feel best on 9 hours. I just didn't allow myself to get it. Any feeling of being tired is nothing compared to my drive. I've flown across the continent and done high level multi-lingual meetings on no sleep at all. The less I sleep, the less I feel I need it. Finally, you're too tired to sleep and you don't even know you're tired because it's every day. You've simply taught yourself to be blind and deaf to your physical needs, like hunger and tiredness because you're constantly high on achievement. At least that was me.

When I finally came down after years of this, it took me about a month on sleeping pills before I could sleep a full 8 hours even with the pills.

ETA: I tried giving up coffee for that month as well. Made no difference whatsoever.

mirandashell
12-12-2011, 04:54 PM
I don't turn into a bitch when I'm off coffee. The headache is usually too incapacitating for me to be aware there is anyone near me.

Drachen Jager
12-12-2011, 09:30 PM
Thanks in advance! I wish I could conduct this experiment on myself, but I can't stand coffee. Never could. :)

I'm not sure if you're allowed to be a writer then. :P

It takes me only a day or two to get over it. I take Advil for the headaches. Lots of liquid helps, so the teas will actually be pretty effective (and, as others have said, green or black tea has a fair amount of caffeine, the general rule I've heard is about 5-10 cups of tea=1 cup of coffee). I drink 2-3 coffees a day, but they're not your regular tame house-coffee brew. These are wild Siberian, rip-your-heart-out coffees.

amergina
12-12-2011, 09:37 PM
For me, the first 3 or so days without caffeine is painful, even with analgesics. And my brain is sluggish. The sluggish thing continues 'till about day 6 or 7. I feel a bit like I've never quite woken up.

When I hit week 2, I'm usually feeling a hell of a lot better.

BunnyMaz
12-12-2011, 10:20 PM
Definitely several days to get past it, and with that expect sleep schedule and *ahem* pooping schedule, to be severely unbalanced. My other half recently tried to restrict himself to 2 cups of tea a day. After a week of sleeping 4 hours, being up 6, sleeping 5, up 3, sleeping 2, up 8 and so on, as well as severe constipation, he gave up!

I also find dehydration is an issue for me. I drink a LOT of coffee, so when I tried to cut it out I wasn't replacing my cuppas with glasses of water, which absolutely contributed to all the problems. My appetite also went squiffy.

Chiquita Banana
12-12-2011, 10:32 PM
Thanks so much to everyone for the responses! I'm so glad to see there have been a variety of experiences. I can't make this guy TOO bitchy because it's a romance and he's the hero - can't have readers hating him - but I do want it to be realistic. I've posted the first chap up here in case anyone's intrigued: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=225066 :)

Drachen Jager - ha! Well, I think I make up for the lack of coffee with an even worse addiction associated with writers (ahem... cough). Really, really got to kick that soon, though...

But never fear, the teas at the wellness center aren't green or black - they're herbal (no caffeine.)

Flicka - thanks for cluing me in about the long-term effect of little sleep. Very helpful.

Karen Junker - yep, that's exactly the pressure point I've got them working on. Or her working on, I should say. As I mentioned, it's a romance and this is the first truly intense moment between my two mains, when she's putting pressure on his hand, trying to help with the headache. Fun scene to write.

Thanks again to everyone.

Archerbird
12-12-2011, 11:31 PM
I broke my coffee maker during the weekend (or before, can't remember), but I haven't had any headaches yet. I expected to, but nothing happened. I just feel awfully...I don't know what the word for it is in English, but...zombie-like. I want to lay down on the couch and just take a tiny nap all the time.

Edit: I usually drink 2 or 3 cans a day. I did have 2 or 3 cups of tea instead of coffee, but that hardly counts IMO.

chevbrock
12-13-2011, 07:13 AM
If you don't want to make him too cranky, you can have fun with the lack of concentration and the diminished ability to focus on things. Could make for some interesting and funny conversations between your characters!

Jersey Chick
12-13-2011, 07:29 AM
One time, my husband bought decaf instead of regular coffee and neither one of us realized it. But the next day, after having my usual 2-3 cups in the morning, by about noon I began to feel weird. Just not myself. Everything just felt a little... off. I didn't have any headaches, but it just seemed like nothing was as it should be, but I couldn't put my finger on what it was that was so wrong. And it really began to bother me as the day went on.

When I went into the pantry for something else, I saw the coffee can and realized why. <headsmack>

If I don't have my coffee every day, I get a blinding headache (If I killed someone, no judge in the world would convict me kind of headache) - thankfully, I realized the whole decaf-regular switcheroo before it set in.

Archerbird
12-13-2011, 09:47 AM
I forgot that I've had freeze dried coffee/instant coffee during the weekend. Never mind.

boron
12-13-2011, 03:07 PM
Amount of caffeine:

- Espresso, restaurant style: 40-75 mg/1 oz
- Generic brewed coffee: 95-200 mg/8 oz
- Tea (black or green): 15-60 mg/8 oz
- Soft drinks: 30-55 mg/12 oz
- Energy drinks: ~75 mg/8 oz
- Excedrin, extra strength, 1 tablet: 65 mg

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/AN01211

Caffeine does not likely cause dehydration, especially not in regular drinkers.

JSDR
12-13-2011, 09:56 PM
After reading this thread, I realize I'm fortunate to not suffer repercussion when stopping the coffee.

As long as I keep busy and I don't think about it, the headache doesn't bother me.

Examples: My friends decided to take a roadtrip, at 3 a.m., from Santa Barbara to Tiajuana because they'd found out I'd never been. This was in college, so I went from 3-4 double or triple shot mochas a day to none.

'nother time, we went camping, and our coffee making experiments ended in buffoonery (we didn't trust the river water, we didn't bring filters for the ground coffee, conflicting opinions about how to boil water, etc. sheltered anyone?). We hiked up and down mountains, and my fear of heights overrode any possible hint of headache.

heza
12-13-2011, 11:14 PM
My cold-turkey headache lasts 2-3 days. I try to drink a ton of water during that time, too, so that probably helps decrease the withdrawal period.

I don't really get bitchy overall... but I'm not a morning person. My BIL says the most dangerous place in the world is between me and a coffee pot when I first wake up. I have this overwhelming sense that there's something unbearable about the morning, and it doesn't lift until I've got that first hot cup of joe in my hands.

WriteMinded
12-17-2011, 08:56 PM
Hi all.

I have a character who drinks 6-7 cups of coffee a day and he's been taken (unwillingly) to a wellness retreat where there's no coffee or anything with caffeine - no aspirin either.

I've given him a massive headache and the wellness folks are doing their best to help alleviate his pain with special herbal teas and pressure point therapy. So far he's only been there one day.

Unwillingly? Is this a fantasy novel?

There are two things I am never giving up. Coffee is one of them.

Smiling Ted
12-19-2011, 05:56 AM
The actual caffeine actually leaves your system pretty quickly - within a day. What causes the headaches (so I'm told) is the fact that caffeine opens your blood vessels just a bit, allowing more circulation; when the caffeine is gone, the vessels shrink, and...headache.

ShamanDrum
12-19-2011, 06:39 AM
Headaches don't really last too long, 2-6 days depending on the person. But it's learning to function day to day without the aid of a stimulant that poses the biggest challenge. That can take 2-3 months apparently. I never found out as I gave up after about a month before jumping back headlong into that lovely steaming, vitalizing black ocean.

Well, that's how I felt after my first sip following a month of deprivation.