Living in Recovery

Addicted to Caffeine and Sugar in Sobriety: Why it Happens and How to Stop

An often-overlooked drug is caffeine. The reason for this is because unlike some of the more dangerous drugs, like heroin, cocaine, alcohol, etc. Read More

caffeine and sugar addiction

An often-overlooked drug is caffeine. The reason for this is because unlike some of the more dangerous drugs, like heroin, cocaine, alcohol, etc., no one has ever gotten a DUI from caffeine and as far as I can tell, no one has ever overdosed from it. With that said, though, there are some drawbacks to having a caffeine addiction and some serious health risks involved in indulging in caffeine’s partner in crime, sugar.

In particular, people in recovery are probably most at risk for falling into an addiction to caffeine or sugar. In just about any meeting you go to throughout the world, there is a pot of coffee brewing and probably some sweets to enjoy. In fact, I would say that to a certain extent coffee and 12 Step meetings pretty much go hand in hand, and without drugs or alcohol to lean on, many newly sober gorge themselves on caffeinated beverages and sugary treats.

Why Do People In Recovery Get Addicted to Caffeine and Sugar

Without coffee, the modern economy that we all enjoy would pretty much grind to a halt as dazed and confused people would roam the streets with pounding headaches, agitated because of their lack of caffeine.

Coffee is for the most part an ingrained part of American culture, like tea is in England, and because of this, many people start to use the drug of caffeine as a crutch from an early age.

Once sober, this addiction a lot of the times begins to increase as individuals go to coffee shops before and after meetings to talk with friends, and begin to drink a copious amount of Diet Coke. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed this, but Diet Coke seems to be a staple drink among people in recovery, and if you go out to eat with a large group of sober people at least half of them will order a Diet Coke.

The same thing goes for sugar, and often times a person’s sugar intake will increase once they get sober. This is especially true in the beginning of sobriety, where sugar can actually help to decrease cravings for alcohol, as the sugar reacts in the body, increasing dopamine levels and to an extent mimics the effects of alcohol.

What you wind up with is an addiction to caffeine, where if you don’t have your morning coffee, you get a pounding headache and an increased sugar intake, which can cause serious health issues like diabetes or heart issues.

How to Stop Your Caffeine Addiction

As difficult as it can be to get off of drugs or alcohol, many people find quitting caffeine increasingly more difficult. The reason for this is because caffeine does not immediately disrupt your life. Drinking too much coffee is probably not going to ruin your marriage, cause your kids to hate you, or cause the bank to take your house. The police won’t come barging through your door in the middle of the night on a caffeine raid, and because of this, there is no immediacy in the need to quit.

Although, if you have ever gone without coffee for a few days and experienced the awful headaches and lethargy that ensues, you may understand why you should think about giving up your beloved caffeine.

I one time, by accident, drank decaffeinated coffee for 2 days and by the 3rd day, I almost couldn’t function as a human being. It truly was awful and no amount of Advil took my headache away. It was only when I realized my blunder, and drank regular coffee that I felt better, and then in turn, realized how much in the grips of caffeine addiction I was.

If you decide that you want to stop your addiction to caffeine, then you will more than likely have to go the route of total abstinence, meaning no coffee, no caffeinated beverages, or anything else that has caffeine in it.

The way you can go about doing this is by simply just cutting these things out of your diet and dealing with the uncomfortability that comes over the next week, or you can gradually decrease your caffeine intake, until you weed it out completely. Either way, there will be a period of adjustment, but what you will find in time is that you won’t feel as tired in the morning, and you won’t need your morning coffee to get you going through the day.

Why You Should Limit or Cut Out Sugar

I’ve never met anyone that doesn’t like sugar, although I’m sure there is someone out there that hates sweet things, and so giving up desert and other delicious foods can very often be difficult. But what you will find the longer you stay sober, is that you will either have more of a desire to take care of yourself or you will fall into bad dietary habits that will hinder your ability to be your best self.

When I had a couple of years sober, I realized that if I continued to stay involved in the program, there was a good possibility that I would be alive for a while. This came as somewhat of a surprise considering that most of my life I believed I’d be dead before I was 30, and so I also realized that I needed to take better care of my body, meaning eating better, limiting my sugar intake, and exercising.

Working these things into your life isn’t all that easy when you aren’t used to it, but in particular, watching what you eat and not indulging in copious amounts of sugar is important for longevity. Doing so will ensure that you do not wind up with diabetes or other related issues later on in life, and it will ensure that you are able to be the best version of yourself you can possibly be.