May 31 is World No Tobacco Day, and if you smoke, it’s a great opportunity to quit or make a plan to quit. It’s one of the most positive changes you can ever make for your health.
When you first quit smoking, there are certain situations that can trigger a strong urge to smoke. For example, former smokers may associate having a cigarette with drinking coffee or another caffeinated beverage. However, if you’ve just quit smoking or are trying to quit, there’s something you should know – smokers and non-smokers process caffeine differently.
For example, a smoker who usually drank two cups of coffee in the morning with a cigarette will feel stronger caffeine effects from the same two cups after quitting smoking. This is because smoking causes the body to metabolize caffeine more quickly. So, when you quit smoking and continue to drink coffee or other caffeinated drinks, your metabolism rate slows and the caffeine level in your body rises. This may cause caffeine toxicity which can result in anxiety, difficulty concentrating, impatience, insomnia, and restlessness. These symptoms are often attributed to nicotine withdrawal.
In one study, three weeks after quitting, people showed caffeine levels that were about double the caffeine level they showed while smoking. In fact, if caffeine consumption doesn’t decrease after quitting, caffeine levels can remain elevated for up to 6 months. Reducing your caffeine intake by at least half when you quit smoking can help you avoid caffeine toxicity.
However, it’s also important that you don’t stop your caffeine intake abruptly. Cutting out caffeine too quickly can lead to caffeine withdrawal, which includes symptoms such as anxiety, headaches, insomnia and fatigue.
Quitting is hard, but counseling and cessation medications can greatly increase your odds of success. For free help with quitting call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) – or in Spanish: 1-855-DÉJELO-YA, (1-855-335-3569) – or visit SmokeFree.gov.