Caffeine found in tea and coffee belongs to the same family of chemicals as nicotine.
The easiest way to tell if chemicals are related to each other is by looking at the last three letters in the name.
Both caffeine and nicotine end in “ine” and share some similar properties.
Owing to these similarities, both caffeine and nicotine share a common set of effects on the body and brain.
They’re both simulants, and both of them are addictive. You can experience similar withdrawals from stopping smoking as you can by cutting back on caffeine.
In this article, we’ll be discussing the effects of caffeine on smoking withdrawals, including what most people experience when they’re going through nicotine withdrawal, and how caffeine impacts this.
Can Caffeine Affect Smoking Withdrawals?
The short answer is, yes, caffeine can have a more noticeable effect on someone who is currently withdrawing from nicotine.
Caffeine and nicotine share a common relationship which can affect your success in the early stages of quitting smoking.
One of the aspects of this relationship is the physiological effect nicotine and caffeine have on the body.
If you are currently a smoker, you might notice that it takes more coffee to get the same buzz as someone who doesn’t smoke.
There is a reason for this.
The presence of nicotine in the bloodstream actually doubles the rate at which your body uses up caffeine.
This is due to the fact that nicotine disrupts the body’s ability to absorb and utilize caffeine.
In the context of withdrawing from smoking, this means when you quit smoking, you will need to adjust the amount of caffeine you consume.
Because your body is no longer inhibited in its ability to absorb caffeine, logically it will take less caffeine to get the desired effect.
Common Side Effects Of Smoking Withdrawal
It almost goes without saying that each of us is different.
This means that each smoker has a slightly different experience when they decide to quit smoking.
Some can kick the habit with minimal difficulty, but the vast majority of smokers experience some common symptoms listed below.
It’s also worth pointing out that the severity of each of these symptoms also varies with each individual.
The most common reported withdrawal symptoms include
- Anger, frustration, and irritability
- Difficulty sleeping which can lead to insomnia
- Depression and/or anxiety
- Increased appetite/constant feeling of hunger
How Long Does Smoking Withdrawal Last?
There’s no hard and fast rule regarding when you should stop experiencing smoking withdrawal.
There are a number of factors which determine the duration of the withdrawal symptoms.
These include the level of dependency on nicotine and the strength of the addiction.
On one end of the spectrum, social smokers might not have a high level of dependency, so when they quit they might not experience the above symptoms in great intensity.
On the other end, those who are classed as chain smokers will have a greater dependence on smoking and nicotine, so they will experience most of the above withdrawal effects.
That being said, most people report nicotine withdrawal symptoms being at their worst in the first week, and gradually getting easier after about 2 to 4 weeks.
Why Is Breathing Worse After Quitting Smoking?
Our throat and lungs are covered in tiny hairs (cilia).
Smoking negatively affects the cilia in our lungs and throat, it inhibits their ability to move mucus out of the lungs.
When you quit smoking, these tiny hairs become active again.
Once the cilia become active again, you might notice your breathing and cough is worse for a while. This is completely normal.
Tips For Dealing With The Effects Of Caffeine And Smoking
It is widely reported that people who quit smoking also struggle with their caffeine intake.
As mentioned in the introduction, nicotine and caffeine share common features and effects on the body.
We’ve created a list of tips to help you cope with the effects of caffeine and smoking:
Reduce Your Caffeine Intake
As we’ve discussed, nicotine increases your bodies’ consumption of caffeine in the bloodstream.
To this effect, it is important to reduce your consumption of caffeine when you quit smoking.
It’s often recommended that you reduce caffeine intake by about half once you’ve quit smoking.
Without reducing your caffeine intake when you quit smoking, you run the risk of your body being over-caffeinated.
The symptoms of being over-caffeinated include muscle twitching, irritability, and restlessness.
There’s also a risk that you can become jittery and overstimulated, this can lead to wanting to reach out for a cigarette to calm your nerves.
Give Your Usual Coffee Break Routine A Wide Birth
There is a strong association between drinking caffeine and smoking.
Much like drinking alcohol and smoking, many smokers associate the two habits.
Mix up your usual routine by doing things like sitting in a different room when you have your drink, or replace the whole routine with something else, like a walk.
Breaking old habits around smoking and forming new ones will help you quit.
Try Drinking Something Different
If you usually drink coffee, this can remind you of the taste of cigarettes and trigger a craving for one.
There are countless beverages out there that hit the same spot as coffee in terms of caffeine fix.
Look At All The Sources Of Caffeine In Your Life
When you are reducing your caffeine intake it’s vital to look at all the sources of caffeine in your life.
Caffeine is present in plenty of other sources, not just coffee!
It can be found in most sodas, all energy drinks, tea, and even certain medications and foods.
By looking at all the sources of caffeine in your daily routine, you’ll be able to identify where you can cut down on your caffeine intake.
Put The Effects Of Caffeine In A Quit Plan
If you have a quit plan for coming off cigarettes, it’s important to incorporate your reduction of caffeine in this plan.
This will maximize your chances of successfully quitting, but also ensure that you are prepared for the journey off cigarettes.
It’s important to consider your relationship with and consumption of caffeine when you are starting down the road of quitting smoking.
By adjusting your coffee drinking pattern when you quit smoking, you are increasing your chances of quitting successfully.
The two most important takeaways are to reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, and change your coffee habit as this can trigger the craving to smoke.