One stigma about recovering addicts is that they will smoke and drink a lot of coffee, after getting sober. Smoking is clearly bad for you, but this is to be reserved for another topic. But, the question remains–is drinking coffee in recovery acceptable? As one might expect, the picture with both coffee and caffeine, generally speaking, is more complicated. But, it’s something that our team with North Jersey Rehabs will address today!
One of the biggest difference makers here is if you are getting caffeine from coffee or tea, or from energy drinks. Health experts are pretty much on the same page that energy drinks should be avoided. A big part of the issue is that you never quite know what you are getting. Certain energy drinks contain excessive amounts of caffeine, and others are inundated with exotic ingredients, the effects of which are not totally understood, especially when they are paired with other ingredients.
All in all, one of the biggest concerns here for energy drinks or coffee, depending on how you take it, is the sugar content. Excessive consumption of sugar is bad for your health and has been linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, chronic inflammation, and fatty liver disease. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 36 grams of sugar per day total for men, and no more than 25 grams of sugar per day for women. For people recovering from substance use disorders, these outcomes are especially bad, even more so for patients recovering from alcohol use disorder, since their risk for diabetes, heart disease, and liver disease will go up.
Additionally, sugar is known to take a toll on one’s mental health, as well. It can put many people at greater risk for relapse. In essence, if you are in need of a caffeine fix, it’s a far-better option to consume coffee than energy drinks.
Caffeine consumption, namely coffee, does not have to be totally disadvantageous while in recovery. Below are some examples of purported benefits of drinking coffee in recovery.
As for whether you consume coffee or tea, it is certainly a mixed bag and is heavily dependent on your personal situation. It appears that some mild health benefits do apply to coffee and tea consumption. The case for tea is pretty recognizable. It’s chop full of antioxidants and numerous studies have shown that heavy tea drinkers have a lowered risk of various cancers. Alternatively with coffee, it’s harder to pin down as every so often, contradictory studies will come to the surface. For example, some older studies found a slight increase in bladder and pancreatic cancer risks, but many of these have been largely discredited. It does appear that coffee can raise your blood pressure and that unfiltered coffee is capable of raising cholesterol. But, the inverse has painted a different story. Coffee has been shown to lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, liver cancer, liver cirrhosis, and gout–risks that are heightened from alcohol abuse. These positive impacts are not immense, but if you’re already consuming a few cups a day, it’s certainly a nice bonus.
Caffeine is no stranger to having some influence on your mental health. The positive attributes associated with coffee and mental health have been well documented. This includes increased alertness, more energy, improved cognitive function, and above all, a better mood. By extension, some may experience fewer depressive symptoms and lower risks of suicide. These benefits can give you the much-needed edge in dealing with the sluggishness and irritability that is all too common in the early stages of recovery. Coffee drinking can be viewed as a form of self-medicating, but for a majority of people, the negative effects of moderate caffeine consumption will be preferable to those of even well-tolerated SSRIs. The only caveat is that coffee should not be used as a substitute for properly addressing mental health issues.
Not all that glitters in gold. Drinking coffee in recovery is not without its faults. They can be numerous, depending on the person, but here are a few that stand out.
A big drawback for patients in recovery with North Jersey Rehabs who are regularly drinking coffee, is its tendency to exacerbate issues with anxiety. Caffeine actively stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, which is equivalent to the same feelings as anxiety or panic. If you are not prone to anxiety, moderate consumption is probably okay. On the other hand, suppose you routinely deal with anxiety, even some caffeine can amplify the issue. One study reported that nearly 18% of people with a SUD, had problems with anxiety, the year prior.
Even for those who have never had a substance use disorder, we have all heard the rule of thumb–never drink caffeine too close to bedtime. However, insomnia is a common withdrawal symptom for those who are recovering, and it could persist for weeks or months into recovery. If you find yourself guzzling coffee for most of the day, don’t be surprised if your sleep is affected. Caffeine has a half-life of about four to six hours, based on your metabolism. The caffeine present in your system is enough to keep you up, or you might sleep less deeply.
Everyone’s situation in recovery is different. Some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. It’s important to be aware of your own vulnerabilities and act on them accordingly. When seeking treatment with North Jersey Rehabs, it’s not something that you will have to endure all on your own. To learn more about how to get professional help on your recovery journey, contact us today!
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