Posted on March 8, 2019 by Origins
One of the longest lasting stereotypes of AA members is that they drink lots of coffee and smoke lots of cigarettes. A large study found that there is some truth to this popular perception. While roughly 14 percent of Americans smoke and about 64 percent of Americans drink coffee every day, about 57 percent of AA members smoke and about 89 percent drink coffee every day.
Not only is smoking associated with a list of serious health issues including cancer and heart disease, but smoking is also associated with a higher risk of relapse. The case of health risks and coffee is less clear. Many studies have found moderate health benefits from drinking coffee, including longer lifespan, lower risk of cardiovascular disease, lower risk of diabetes, and lower risk of parkinson’s disease, among others. However, there are tradeoffs, especially if you drink more than four cups a day.
Health Risks Of Coffee Consumption
First, there are some health risks associated with coffee, which we hear less about because the benefits tend to get more media coverage. Coffee has been linked to a higher risk of esophageal cancer. However, this appears to be a result of drinking coffee or other beverages that are too hot and can be avoided by exercising a little patience. Coffee has also been linked to cardiovascular disease at high levels of consumption. Coffee temporarily leads to increase in blood pressure and may cause fast or erratic heartbeat.
The main concern for most people will be the “minor” drawbacks, such as increased anxiety, jittery feeling, and insomnia. It’s common to feel on edge early in recovery, due to low levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. This is especially true after quitting alcohol, opioids, and benzodiazepines. If you’re already tense and irritable, coffee will probably only make your demeanor worse, leading to more intense feelings of stress and anxiety. On the other hand, tapering off your caffeine intake will calm you down effectively. If you’re feeling wound tight, try cutting your caffeine and see what happens.
Insomnia is another common issue in early recovery for the same reason that anxiety and irritability are problems. However, insomnia is an even bigger problem because it multiplies your other problems. Lack of sleep has been linked to big increases in anxiety and more frequent thoughts of suicide. Sleep is also important for letting your body heal and helping you learn new skills. If you’re already having trouble sleeping, coffee certainly isn’t helping. Try cutting your caffeine intake, especially after noon, and see if you sleep better. Even if you feel like you get enough sleep, caffeine can sometimes keep you from getting deep, restful sleep.
Everyone has different challenges in recovery. If anxiety or insomnia are problems for you, then cutting out caffeine, at least for a few months, is probably a good idea. However, for others, having a cup of coffee in the morning is no big deal and might even help a bit.
Origins Behavioral Healthcare is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance abuse, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renown clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety.
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