The Acceptable Addiction

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The Acceptable Addiction


I don’t want to judge. This post is only posing a question, opening dialogue.

Last week I made a huge life decision:


I gave up caffeine.


Believe me, it was a very hard decision to make. I love coffee. I’m from the Pacific Northwest. I grew up near Seattle – home of Starbucks and land of coffee aficionados.

Coffee was the start of my day. I like it strong and black. No cream – yuk. No sugar – double yuk!


And I honestly thought that the hardest part would be missing the taste of a rich, dark brew. Boy was I wrong.

Here’s how it went:


It first started with drowsiness. I am so not kidding. The first day I couldn’t stay awake no matter what I did. I think I fell asleep on the couch off and on all afternoon.

Have I ever mentioned that I don’t take naps? Like ever?

In addition to that, I had this constant need to satisfy that void where my coffee used to be. I think I drank at least 5-6 cups of herbal tea before I gave up. Then started in the flu-like symptoms….with a vengeance. It was horrid.

By evening I had a raging headache and I thought I would die.


Day 2: drowsiness. I took a 2-hour nap and could have slept longer but the kids woke up. That was Wednesday – when I posted my linky party without any content. That was due to the brain fog I had. I don’t think I had 2 coherent thoughts all day. Add the lingering flu-like symptoms and lack of appetite.

But at least I didn’t want to die.

Day 3: The fog started to clear. My tummy wasn’t happy, but at least it wasn’t sick. I just didn’t have any appetite to speak of. My head hurt like crazy, but I wasn’t drowsy – so I was thankful.

Day 4: I started feeling awesome. Natural energy overtook my system – lasting energy. My mind was clear, my appetite was back. I had a bit of a headache, but I hardly noticed it because I was just happy to feel normal again.

I am at the end of day 6 now. I do admit to craving that bitter, full-bodied cup of steaming joe.


But there’s something that’s nagged at me the whole week:

If one must endure such severe withdrawals when choosing to no longer have caffeine, should it not be considered as much an addictive substance as tobacco?

At this point in my own personal dialogue {and I have not made any conclusions yet – I am brainstorming with you a little}, I don’t see much of a difference.

Both are addictive.

Both carry health-risks in large quantities

Both cause horrible withdrawal symptoms when not used/consumed.


We preach about one while consuming the other.

So my question is: is caffeine the acceptable addiction? Is it the addiction Christians are not willing to talk about? Is it possible that we don’t want to know the answer because we have created fellowship around it?


I haven’t arrived at an answer yet, but this I know:

I do not ever want to allow my body to become this dependent on any other substance again. I never want to allow my body to crave anything at all to this degree. I never want to have to put my body through such rigors so as to rid itself of a dependency.

I don’t ever want to try to satisfy any void in my life apart from God’s presence!

I will forevermore be caffeine free!


This article was featured at Charisma News and SpiritLed Woman under the title “The Addiction Most Christians Accept“. This article is also translated into Russian here.

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  1. I like this post. It is a silent addiction I used to be an addicted coffee person too. (but mine was decaf)
    Although I gave it up a long time ago, now I just do more beverages, water and juice.

    Thanks for this insight . God bless.

  2. I’m right there with you, Rosilind! I’ve been feeling the conviction of my socially acceptable addiction as well. Mine is sugar. Sounds silly, I know, but I was dealing with some serious addiction. I gave it up “cold turkey” 3 weeks ago. Withdrawals were horrible, but I’m beginning to feel better. 🙂

    1. That’s not silly at all. I have contemplated making sugar my next thing to give up. I am afraid it will take me as long to get around to it as it did to getting around to caffeine. lol!

  3. I have to admit we drink a LOT of coffee at our house and I haven’t considered the implications to carefully. We have cut back lately and I can tell its good for my mood (less anxiety). I’ll keep thinking about it! Thanks for the post.

    1. Yes – there was a time when I drank up to 10 cups a day. Part of my youth follies – and my anxiety was off the charts. I am almost 2 weeks in, an I feel really good now.

  4. Caffeine is addictive. Very addictive. I remember the first time I got a caffeine withdrawal headache… I was in high school. To be honest, I smoked for about a year when I was younger, and I seriously think that a caffeine addiction is harder to break than a tobacco addiction. Mainly, because it comes in more formats. It isn’t just in coffee. It’s in tea, soda, chocolate. You can consciously decide not to smoke, you can’t consciously decide not to drink anything. You have to replace it with something else. It’s also easier to buy, so you can’t just avoid the lane that sells cigarettes at Walmart, and you don’t only need to fight the urge to buy a pack when you are at the gas station, you have to consciously make the choice every time you are at any store, walk by a vending machine, go into a gas station or to a restaurant.

    1. Wow – your perspective is so true. Caffeine really is in so many things, just like sugar; which I think will probably be next on the list for me. Agh!

  5. I think unfortunately, this can be said about any substance or food in large quantities. The first time I did a sugar detox, I literally detoxed – flu-like symptoms and everything. I think it’s about moderation, I don’t think we need become complete abstainers, but we need to release that whatever we put in our bodies has some form of effect – and we need to moderate the amount to moderate or avoid that effect.

    1. Yes – this is true that it can be with any substance. I agree, for the most part that we don’t need to be come complete abstainers in everything. My reason to completely abstain from caffeine is purely for health reasons. But moderation is always best because it requires discipline, which is necessary for every area of our life.

  6. While caffeine can be very addictive I don’t think it is quite fair to paint it with the same brush as tobacco. Coffee in particular has many health benefits including lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s, stroke, liver disease, some types of cancer, and depression. The caffeine itself can help to boost your metabolism (and aid in weight loss), offer some protection against Parkinson’s, and soothe migraines (not related to withdrawal).
    While we certainly need to be aware of our intake and be aware of possible additions, I think it is also important to recognize the difference between ritual habits (which can help bring inner calm and focus) and an addiction (which cause your world to grind to a halt if you miss out)

    1. Yes – coffee does have many health benefits, but green tea is even better. It has more antioxidants and yet not enough caffeine to have an effect on your system. Because while it does boost your metabolism, for some this is not a benefit, but a detriment. For some, this only agitates and causes stress levels to rise. Please see this post where I talk about why some people need to completely avoid caffeine:

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