I’ve consumed alcohol and coffee for most of my adult life. I’ve enjoyed both, but have experienced enough negative effects from them that I’ve embarked on multiple periods of abstainment. Through those periods, I’ve learned that alcohol and coffee addictions are linked together, and if you want to quit one, it helps to first quit the other.

I’m able to quit alcohol without much willpower, but coffee is far more challenging. The withdrawal effects are so severe for me that I have to plan to quit during a week when I don’t have much going on so I can nurse my headaches and fatigue without facing any important deadlines. During a period of not drinking coffee, I may still drink alcohol at night, but on the day after, I feel slightly sluggish and strongly crave coffee to pep myself up. It then becomes a matter of time until I’m back to having a daily cup of coffee, addicted like I was before.

It also has worked the other way around where I tried to quit alcohol without first quitting coffee. In that case, the coffee will inevitably lead to high-strung and jittery feelings that alcohol is perfectly tailored to resolve. To lessen the coffee jitters, I may have a couple of beers in the evening. The next day, I experience a mild hangover and now crave coffee to wake up properly. The cycle continues.

Modern life is set up so that you need to wake up at a predetermined time to perform cognitive work, and then when that work is finished, you must experience a feeling of relaxation in order to sleep properly for the next day’s cognitive work. So you drink coffee to perform work, sometimes multiple cups, and then drink alcohol (or smoke marijuana) to bring you back down to counter the negative effects of coffee to feel “relaxed” at night so that you can get something resembling sleep to do it all again the next day. The root cause of both coffee and alcohol addiction is therefore contorting your body to perform activities on someone else’s clock, such as that of your employer, instead of your own natural clock.

My bigger weakness is coffee, so in order to successfully quit, I had to quit alcohol at the same time, which made the task far easier. You will be tempted to moderate your consumption of both, but this will fail you in the end, so you must abstain completely, and in the times you slip up, you must not consume more than one drink of either, and strongly resist the urge in the next 48 hours to consume more.

While drinking alcohol or coffee in moderation is not harmful to your body, it is the gateway to physical or psychological dependency (or both). You can’t get addicted to something you never consume, and since I have proven to myself that I cannot properly control my consumption of these substances, especially coffee, the only solution for me is to abstain from both.

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  1. Çatal Höyük September 12, 2020 at 3:55 am

    Okay is this good advice. Getting off coffee is difficult (Coffee is a huge part of Turkish culture) but I think it is best not to rely on any substance for energy. You are much stronger when you can energetic without any drugs. (not sure if coffee should be considered a drug; it is very mild).

    1. Çatal Höyük September 12, 2020 at 6:18 pm

      *Okay this is good advice