Caffeine, Health and Recovery

Anyone in recovery desires several things. You want to remain free of the drug you had been using and you want to alleviate the negative physical and emotional conditions that were created by that addiction. Hopefully, you also want to lead a healthier life in general. In order to move along a new path in life in which you are becoming and staying healthier, you must not only stay free of your previous substance abuse, but you should live in a more wholesome manner, one that is not just, not unhealthy, but one that actively promotes good health. One important way to do this is to detoxify your body and keep it free of all harmful, toxic substances. To do this, you ought to eliminate certain habits to avoid these other substances, in addition to remaining free of the drug you were abusing. For this reason, knowledge of the effects of various foods and chemicals is essential to being able to find and stay on the path that leads you to better and better health. Sometimes sociological conditions and peer influences can distort ones view of the real situation. A good example of this was cigarette smoking. Older movies are a good indication of the social norms at the time. Not only did most people start smoking in social situations, but the person who did not smoke was considered not really as much a part of the social group. Of course, now most people are fully aware that not only is nicotine very addicting, but the intake of the toxic smoke is extremely harmful and unwise, and it is morally wrong to make those around you inhale toxic second hand smoke. Today, things are different and it is the person who wants to smoke, who is a bit of an outsider, and who often finds themselves literally outside, when they have to smoke in another location, like outside a restaurant or even outside an apartment where they are a visitor.

Today, caffeine is an accepted drug, just like nicotine was many years ago. In fact, caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. Some may feel that it is probably not as harmful as the toxic smoke that went along with nicotine addiction and cigarette smoking. Nevertheless, there is no doubt, that caffeine is very harmful to the health of a person. In the Western world, 8 out of 10 adults consume caffeine in some form. Presently many Americans are hooked on caffeine. Ninety percent consume it in one form or another every single day. Over half of them consume more than 300 milligrams of caffeine every day. It is in coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and a variety of other things, and is our nation’s most popular drug.

Caffeine occurs naturally in many plants, including coffee beans, tea leaves, and cocoa nuts. Caffeine is really a biological poison used by plants as a defense against being harmed and injured by the other forms of life in their environment. The caffeine gives seeds and leaves a bitter taste, which discourages their consumption by insects and animals. If predators continue to eat a caffeine-containing plant, the caffeine can cause central nervous system disruptions and even lethal side effects. Most of them learn to leave the plant alone. Though it is widely known that caffeine is an addictive and unhealthy drug, it is widely consumed and as much a part of American contemporary life as smoking was years ago. With the spread of and popularity of coffee bars, coffee, one of the main sources of caffeine in people’s diet, is more popular than ever. (Tea and hot chocolate, also consumed at these coffee bars contain significant caffeine, but not as much.) Around one third of all coffee drinkers say they can’t do without it and are clearly addicted. Tolerance for caffeine for anyone drinking coffee can develop rapidly and lead to the desire to increase ones consumption. Someone used to drinking six or seven cups of strong coffee a day will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms on waking and then every two to three hours after the last coffee drink. If you are seeking optimum health, however, you should severely curtail your coffee consumption, and eventually stop consuming it at all. It is a drug and the last thing any of us needs is another addiction.

When most people think of caffeine they immediately think of coffee, and yet much of the caffeine that is ingested does not come from coffee at all. In fact, people who do not drink coffee may be ingesting quite a great deal of caffeine regularly. The fact is, caffeine is an addictive additive in most commercial sodas. Caffeine has many effects on the body and brain. For example, as your body becomes fatigued, adenosine is made in the brain, and binds to adenosine receptors. This causes drowsiness by slowing nerve cell activity. The result is that you will want to stop and rest. You will want to go to sleep. This is healthy, for you need the rest. The adenosine also causes blood vessels to dilate in the brain, so more oxygen can reach the brain during sleep.

When caffeine is ingested and goes into the stomach, it quickly travels to the brain. Once there it binds to the adenosine nerve receptors. But instead of cellular activity slowing, this results in it speeding up. The cell can no longer bind with adenosine, because the caffeine is linked up with all of its available receptors. The usual effect of adenosine is blocked in this way and the cell begins accelerating its activity. In addition to this, because adenosine is shut out, the brain’s blood vessels begin to constrict. The increased neuron firing in the brain stimulates the pituitary gland. The pituitary signals the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline (epinephrine), the “fight or flight” hormone.Unfortunately, when the adrenaline wears off, you feel fatigued and that drives you to get more caffeine. As you go through this cycle many times through the day, you will find yourself becoming more and more irritable.

Caffeine raises the blood pressure and increases the levels of various stress hormones, and for those very sensitive to it or consuming large quantities, it can cause heart palpitations and nervousness. If sustained by regular coffee drinking over a lifetime, these increases in blood pressure and heart rate will elevate the risk of stroke and heart disease. Heavy coffee drinkers, those having five or more cups per day, were two to three times more likely to have coronary heart disease than were nondrinkers.

Caffeine at a high level can eventually lead to exhaustion of the adrenal glands. Caffeine is a chemical stimulant that increases blood levels of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands. The adrenal hormones regulate stress response, blood pressure, blood sugar, mineral levels, immune activity, inflammation, and cell growth and repair. Long term caffeine consumption contributes to adrenal insufficiency, in which over 150 hormones produced by the adrenals or metabolized from adrenal hormones no longer function adequately.

Caffeine causes the body to produce greater amounts of cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. These elevated levels can last for hours having a negative effect on serotonin and dopamine production. Anxiety will increase and even depression can result from these changes.

People sometimes feel sharper after their cup of coffee, however the increased cortisol will lead to restricted blood to the brain and eventually causes poorer mental performance.

People who chronically stimulate their adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol alter their daily pattern of cortisol concentrations so that cortisol is low in the morning when they wake up instead of high. So they reach for a cup of coffee to artificially spike their cortisol levels up again. These same people experience huge cortisol surges at meals causing them to overeat. They have higher body fat, lower muscle mass, and reduced metabolism, so they burn fewer calories. They don’t sleep well at night because elevated cortisol levels keep them from entering the deep, rebuild and repair stage of sleep the body needs for recuperation. High levels of cortisol will also compromise your immune system and interfere with your body’s ability to fight off pathogens.

Be aware that if you frequently drink coffee or have other sources of caffeine, including ,especially, the many popular caffeinated sodas ,and find that at end of the day you are regularly stressed out and exhausted, even depressed and worried, it could very well be the result of the caffeine generating large amounts of cortisol in your body.

In the end, those seeking the healthiest life should avoid the caffeine to be found in many popular beverages. You should avoid caffeinated coffee, and even Decaf, which is not totally caffeine free, and get in the habit of reading the ingredients on the labels of all sodas and drinks, and choose only the ones which are free of caffeine. Fortunately, for those in successful recovery from alcohol, which had caused hangovers and interfered with the important REM sleep, the powerful need for caffeine in the form of coffee in the morning no longer exists.

BIO: Jeffrey Rose, CMH, is New York’s leading doctor-referred, Certified Hypnotist , ( He is certified by both the National Guild of Hypnotists, and the International Association of Counselors and Therapists), and is the director at The Advanced Hypnosis Center, (, in New York City. Having practiced hypnosis for many years, he has successfully helped people with a wide variety of challenges to make important changes in their life and achieve their goals. Mr. Rose is not only a skilled practitioner of the art of hypnosis, but he is very knowledgeable in a wide variety of health-related fields. He has written many articles for health magazines, including being a staff writer for Recover Magazine, and is currently writing a book on weight loss.

Jeffrey Rose, CMH, is New York’s leading doctor-referred, Certified Hypnotist , ( He is certified by both the National Guild of Hypnotists, and the International Association of Counselors and Therapists), and is the director at The Advanced Hypnosis Center, (, in New York City. Having practiced hypnosis for many years, he has successfully helped people with a wide variety of challenges to make important changes.

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