Suffering from CWS

Published 9:34 pm Monday, April 6, 2009

Finally, the medical experts and media are recognizing my disease as an actual disease, instead of just a self-inflicted addiction that I can easily kick with a little willpower. published a story yesterday about CWS – caffeine withdrawal syndrome. I have suffered from CWS since my college years, when my English-major lifestyle forced me into a downward spiral of caffeine addiction. I got so good at consuming caffeine, I could even unscrew the top of a bottle of soda, take a sip and replace the top with one hand while I held a novel in my other hand.

According to, people skipping their daily dose of caffeine can experience headache, fatigue, sleepiness and inability to focus. They might also report flu-like symptoms, irritability, depression and anxiety.

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According to researcher Michael Kuhar, who studied caffeine addiction, “Withdrawal symptoms can start from 12 to 20 hours after your last cup of coffee and peak about two days later and can last about as long as a week.”

Although I don’t drink coffee or tea, I’m a big fan of soda, particularly Mountain Dew, which has one of the highest caffeine concentrations in soft drinks. I usually drink anywhere from two to five per day.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., apparently recognized that caffeine addiction is a real disease five years ago. About nine out of 10 Americans consume some type of caffeine regularly, making it the most popular behavior-altering drug.

I’m so glad that this serious disease is finally being recognized. For years now, I have wondered why people who constantly get themselves drunk can suffer from “alcoholism” and women who are moody could blame it on “pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder,” but my equally serious condition couldn’t have a real name, with a real diagnosis.

I mean, just like people who suffer from alcoholism, it’s not my fault that I’m addicted to caffeine. I didn’t know it was harmful when I started, and it’s just so hard to stop. Plus, now that there are all kinds of resources out there teaching me that it’s not my fault and that it’s a disease of the mind, I have justification for perpetuating my affliction.

Let’s get real, people. The medical community needs to stop coming up with new names for made-up diseases, and start researching cures for actual diseases like, oh, I don’t know, cancer, AIDS and diabetes. Wouldn’t that be a better use of their time?