Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers caffeine to be both a drug and a food additive. As such, caffeine is legal and can be obtained cheaply. Even so, people who consume caffeine tend to exhibit psychological, emotional and physical dependence. For this reason, they may experience withdrawal problems when they cease to consume caffeine. Similarly, people who are chemically dependent on substances such as alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine may find it difficult to stop. Personally, I have encountered challenges in my efforts to stop caffeine addiction. In this regard, the paper will explore how my experience will enable me to assist chemically dependent people.
Caffeine addicts should reduce their intake of the substance gradually. Once a person becomes dependent on caffeine, abruptly reducing or stopping consumption could cause withdrawal symptoms. Specifically, symptoms such as muscle pain, fatigue, headache, flu-like nausea as well as difficulties in concentration can be experienced after withdrawal. A person who is dependent on caffeine can witness withdrawal symptoms after 12 to 24 hours from the last time the drug was used (Cleveland Clinic, n.d). Studies also show that acute abstinence from caffeine could lead to changes in the velocity of the blood flowing in the cerebral (Sigmon et al., 2009). It is inappropriate for a caffeine addict to stop taking coffee completely. In my case, I have made significant efforts to refrain from caffeine consumption. However, I have still not fully stopped drinking coffee. Completely cutting down on the consumption of caffeine will lead to withdrawal symptoms. Consequently, a person will go back and drink coffee for such symptoms to disappear. Unfortunately, this will mark the beginning of the dependency cycle once more. Nonetheless, chemically dependent people should not avoid stopping the habit because they do not want to experience withdrawal systems.
To ensure the process of reducing caffeine intake is successful, I gradually minimized consumption of drinks such as energy drinks, soda, coffee, and tea. Instead, I began to drink water to substitute caffeinated beverages. This move was helpful as it satisfied my urge to drink a liquid. Moreover, water is capable of flushing chemicals such as caffeine from the body. In this regard, I would advise drug addicts to look for healthy alternatives. For example, alcohol addicts can also decide to consume water instead as it will help keep their bodies hydrated. I also switched from taking regular coffee and opted for decaf. To begin with, I alternated between decaffeinated coffee and regular. After that, I consumed more of decaf than regular coffee. Similarly, chemically dependent people such as alcohol addicts can opt for a less strong drink. For instance, they can switch to a drink that has a very low alcohol content. From there they can switch between consuming drinks with high alcohol content and the less concentrated one. Over time, they will be able to take the drink with less alcohol concentration more regularly. As a result, it will be easier for them to completely stop taking alcohol.
People with substance use disorders (SUDs) may have different reasons for quitting especially after a long-time of chemical dependence. Research shows concern and pressure from family members may influence chemically dependent people to abstain (Pettersen et al., 2018). Furthermore, the awareness of treatment options and the imagination of a different kind of life can give people who abuse drugs hope and strengthen their desire to quit. Caffeine caused me to experience symptoms such as insomnia, headaches, increased blood pressure and dehydration. As such, the knowledge that there was a remedy for my problem made me feel more motivated to quit. Studies related to unhealthy behavior such as substance abuse indicated that successful change in an individual’s behavior does not primarily result from life events or specific treatments. Rather, the reason behind the motivation to change significantly contributed to successful behavioral change.
Accumulated evidence that showed conflict between personal goals and values and continued use could prompt a person to change (Pettersen et al., 2018). I started making efforts to change my caffeine addiction when I realized it was affecting my productivity. Insomnia and headaches that resulted from its use even made it difficult to concentrate on my studies. Therefore, I would assist individuals involved in substance abuse by first giving them a reason that will motivate them to change their behavior. To begin with, I will assist them to realize that it is negatively affecting their well-being. As such, an individual has first to realize that drug abuse is not beneficial and it is hindering them from achieving their goals. After that, I will give them hope by letting them know that various forms of treatments are available. I can also challenge a chemical dependent person to imagine what life would be like if they changed their behavior. If possible, I can involve the family members of the person dependent on drugs. Concern and support from family members can encourage a person to continue with treatment even when things become difficult. In essence, I will first give people experiencing SUD a strong reason to change as it will give them the stamina to continue with their treatment efforts to the end.
Numerous studies have discovered that the threshold for recovery that is stable and sustainable is five years (Pettersen et al., 2018). As such, it is not enough for someone to minimize their use of substances. The effort to completely stop using drugs should be continuous. I have not completely stopped using caffeine because I have been involved in the change process for just some weeks. However, I intend to be consistent in my efforts to stop. When I eventually manage to abstain from consuming caffeine fully, I will monitor my progress for five years to ascertain that my recovery is sustainable. In the same breath, I would encourage a chemically dependent person undergoing rehabilitation to constantly keep track of their progress for at least five years. It is only after that period that they can conclude that their rehabilitation efforts are successful.
Evidence from several studies shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is appropriate for treating SUD. Relapse prevention is a type of CBT that can be used to provide alternative responses to drug use. Relapse prevention helps to identify and avoid risky situations (McHugh, Hearon & Otto, 2010). For example, to prevent alcohol addicts from relapsing they should avoid visiting their favorite bars or even associating with friends who consume alcohol. This strategy is important to prevent a SUD from being tempted to go back to their previous behavior. In my efforts to abstain from caffeine I had to avoid going to cafes and restaurants as it would increase the risk of relapsing. Contingency management (CM) is another CBT approach that aims at dealing with a drug’s reinforcing effects. As such, CM requires the use of a reinforcer that is not substance-related in cases where patients manage to abstain from using substances. Clinical trials have depicted CM’s efficacy in dealing with substances such as opioids, cocaine, and alcohol. Researchers have found that using lottery-type strategies can successfully encourage abstinence while spending less. For instance, instead of giving prices of low values such as $1, the patient who manages to abstain for the longest period will be awarded $50. This move will encourage more chemically-dependent people to abstain.
Motivational interviewing (MI) is an evidence-based approach to dealing with the problem of addiction. MI is effective as the nurse can interact with patients regarding the issue of substance abuse (Worley & Delaney, 2018). MI is effective as patients are not lectured about the consequences of their actions and what they are supposed to do. Instead, this approach is positively centered on the patient. As such, a person is allowed to talk concerning their substance abuse, and then the nurse collaborates with the patient to set realistic goals. Furthermore, MI enables a SUD patient to give the benefits they derived from using a drug. This will enable a nurse to understand what the person considers to be important. In essence, MI enables a nurse to understand the things that can serve as a hindrance to change. This will enhance the use of techniques that have been tested to motivate the patient and eliminate any change barriers (McHugh et al., 2010).
Treatments using MI can be done in isolation or combined with other SUD intervention strategies. Screening, brief intervention, and referral to treatment (SBIRT) is another evidence-based technique. SBIRT first screens individuals to identify those with SUD as well as those who risk developing the disorder (Worley & Delaney, 2018). The results of the screening may then lead to a brief intervention and holding motivational conversations to establish the extent of a person’s substance use and ways through which behaviors can be modified. Finally, individuals who are seriously chemically dependent are given access to relevant care.
Patients suffering from SUD find it difficult to stop. This is because they derive certain benefits in consuming such substances to the extent that their bodies have become dependent on it. My journey to abstain from caffeine consumption has helped me understand the challenges that people who are chemically dependent go through. As such, I can work with them and even assist in their efforts to stop their addiction to drugs. The process of stopping chemical dependence is a gradual one. Therefore, SUD patients should engage in the process of behavioral change gradually even as they seek for healthy options to substitute their substance addiction. Studies have also shown that finding a strong reason to quit substance use is crucial to a successful change of one’s behavior. Moreover, evidence-based techniques such as SBIRT and MI are effective for working with chemically dependent people. Overall, my experience has taught me that chemical dependence can be dealt with by undertaking a gradual behavioral change that is consistent. Additionally, I work with people who are chemically dependent by assisting them in finding a good reason to embrace change and also make the process interactive.
Cleveland Clinic (n.d). Caffeine: Tips for Breaking the Habit. Retrieved from: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15496-caffeine-tips-for-breaking-the-habit
McHugh, K. Hearon, B. & Otto, M. (2010). “Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Substance Use Disorders.” Psychiatr Clin North Am. 33(3). 511-525. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2897895/
Pettersen, H. Landheim, A. Skeie, I. Biong, S. Brodahl, M. Benson, V. & Davidson, L. (2018). “Why Do Those With Long-Term Substance Use Disorders Stop Abusing Substances? A Qualitative Study.” Substance Abuse Journal. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808961/
Sigmon, S. Herning, R. Better, W. Cadet, J. & Griffiths, R. (2009). “Caffeine Withdrawal, Acute Effects, Tolerance, and Absence of Net Beneficial Effects of Chronic Administration: Cerebral Blood Flow Velocity, Quantitative EEG & Subjective Effects.” Psychopharmacology (Berl). 204(4): 573-585. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2738587/
Worley, J. & Delaney, K. (2018). “Turning the tide” in Treatment of Substance Use: A Nursing Response.” Journal of Nursing Education and Practice. Vol., 8. No. 2.