Java Junkies. The truth about caffeine addiction

The experts both psychologists and pharmacologists, tell us NO you cannot be a java junkie. 

You may feel like you “need” a cup of coffee to make it through the day, your body may not appreciate you failing to top it up with caffeine,  but this is not true addiction.

Addiction is typically associated with your whole world coming unglued

Real Junkies suffer life meltdowns without their fix

Let’s be honest – have you heard of someone losing their job, spouse or house because of caffeine.   Clandestine meetings at the coffee house may be grounds for a divorce, but caffeine cannot bear the responsibility for human infidelity.

Physiologically speaking real addictions involve disruptions to an area of your brain responsible for controlling your “rewards”, called the nuclear accumbens. Normal caffeine doses do increase dopamine, but do not stimulate this region which is responsible for reward, motivation and addiction.

Still need to up the dose to maintain the benefit

That said, you will need to progressively increase your dose of caffeine, because your body gets accustomed to the caffeine.   The problem is tolerance not addiction.

Think of your body as a see-saw.   When you are “normal” (okay, maybe you’re never normal but hopefully you have had times in your life when you have been “drug” free), then the stuff turning you on is balanced by the stuff turning you off.


Caffeine steps into the equation. It is a stimulant so it turns on the excitatory part of your nervous system. And you are buzzing.


Your body doesn’t like to be out of balance so it works hard to restore things back to normal by increasing the inhibitory signals. Now you can drink a cup of coffee and feel nothing !   You are considered to be tolerant.


Of course there is little value in drinking your caffeine fix and getting nothing, so you adjust and increase the dose (either by adding a second spoon to the first cup or a second cup to the first). The see saw swings down again and once more you are buzzed. Unfortunately the compensatory mechanism pulls everything back to level.

The cycle continues…

Flat lining on vacation

Your annual vacation arrives and you leave the cell phone, the laptop and the coffee pot and head to a quiet tranquil beach to vegetate in the sun.

You develop the headache from hell and an unspeakable listlessness sometime on the first day of your vacation. It hangs around pretty much for the first few days of your holiday – in fact it finally lifts on Friday, as you are packing your bags to drive back home.

You are facing the “backlash” – caffeine withdrawal.

The caffeine backlash

The headache is due to blood vessels in your head dilating.

If we go back to the see saw. Remember your body had learned to compensate for the extra excitation by increasing the inhibitory signals. Everything was balanced , until you missed the cup of joe.


The see saw swung down with a thump.   Too many inhibitory signals  produces the extreme fatigue as well as the headache. Your super efficient body machine quickly begins to work at restoring the balance and by the end of your weeks holiday has got you back to “normal”.

Avoiding caffeine vacuum when holidaying

So helpful tip, when planning a few days off, one should begin tapering your daily dose of caffeine since suddenly stopping is likely to precipitate  problems. If the thought of facing the day without a little pharmacological stimulation is impossible to contemplate,  then make sure you take a supply of coffee with on your vacation.



Join the java junkie club

Stop stressing about being a java junkie and enjoy the numerous benefits of the little bean.

The use of caffeine is self-regulating – when you start to swing from the ceiling you’ve had one cup too many,  so STOP !

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Further reading

Visit The Caffeine Spoon

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below…..

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