A randomized controlled trial of a manual-only treatment for reduction and cessation of problematic caffeine use

Mary M. Sweeney, Steven E. Meredith, Laura M. Juliano, Daniel P. Evatt, Roland R. Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Caffeine Use Disorder was added to DSM-5 as a diagnosis for further research, but few studies have been conducted to identify effective treatments. This randomized, controlled clinical trial examined the efficacy of a manual-only treatment program for caffeine cessation and reduction among individuals seeking treatment for problematic caffeine use. Methods: Individuals meeting at least two proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for Caffeine Use Disorder were randomly assigned to receive either immediate treatment or treatment delayed by 7 weeks. The treatment consisted of a manual containing information about caffeine and instructions for gradually reducing caffeine consumption over a period of 6 weeks, with no counseling or additional support. Caffeine consumption and caffeine-related distress were assessed before treatment, 7 weeks after receiving the treatment manual (end-of-treatment), and 20 weeks post-treatment. Results: The manual-only treatment resulted in significant reductions in participants’ self-reported caffeine consumption and caffeine-related distress at end-of-treatment that were sustained at 20-weeks post-treatment. Salivary caffeine levels and community observers corroborated the self-reported reductions in caffeine consumption. Comparisons between the immediate and delayed treatment groups suggest the reductions in caffeine consumption were attributable to the manualized treatment rather than spontaneous with the passage of time. Conclusions: The present study provides evidence that a gradual caffeine reduction and cessation program may be successfully implemented using a manual-only approach. This time- and cost-effective intervention may be easily adopted by practitioners with limited time or experience with behavioral interventions who want to encourage their patients to reduce caffeine consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Caffeine
  • Caffeine dependence
  • Caffeine fading
  • Caffeine use disorder
  • Caffeine withdrawal
  • Treatment manual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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