For more than 1 year, I was truly addicted to Red Bull energy drinks. I have been drinking them for years, occasionally, but starting in 2018 and continuing to the middle of 2019, I often drank 4 or more Red Bulls every single day. I made the decision to get off of my Red Bull addiction around June or July of this year and accomplished that goal 1-2 months later. This article will discuss the steps I used to get off of a Red Bull Addiction, how I replaced this bad habit with better habits, and things I learned along the way.
Why Did I Have The Red Bull Addiction In The First Place?
The reasons I had this addiction are complex. Among other reasons, I believe that drinking so many Red Bulls was a coping mechanism for me to deal with pain and stress in my life. I think that there were several factors contributing to this addiction:
- I was dealing with very severe depression for a long time
- I was dealing with stress at work
- I had other personal issues that were often on my mind
Initially I didn’t think of Red Bull as being a way to numb emotional pain, but it ended up being that way. Additionally, there may have been other factors which I don’t know about.
The Build Up To My Red Bull Addiction
My Red Bull addiction built up slowly. I would start drinking 1 per day. Then maybe one week later I’d be drinking 2 per day. Maybe another week or 2 later I’d drink 3 per day. Then 4 per day, then 5 per day. Sometimes even 6 or more per day 😲.
It got to the point where I built up such a high tolerance to the sugar and caffeine from Red Bull that I could literally fall asleep right after drinking 1 or 2 Red Bulls. I realize that Red Bull is quite unhealthy and should be used sparingly.
But, I’ve loved Red Bull for many years and this drink was one way to deal with some personal issues.
How Did I Get Off Of the Red Bull Addiction?
Getting off of my Red Bull addiction took planning. I don’t think I could have done it if I just completely tried randomly to get off of Red Bull.
There were roughly 5 steps I took to get off of my Red Bull Addiction.
Step 1 – Working on my mental state and mental health
This step was about dealing with my depression and may have been the most important step to get off of my addiction.
Whenever people talk about changing yourself either through dieting, exercise, or other ways, they often leave out dealing with mental health. For me dealing with depression was a big issue. Once I made progress with my depression, I was able to continue with getting off of the addiction.
Though it took a lot of work, eventually I was able to get my mental health in a much better state. This set me up to be able to succeed with my goal. If I had tried to work on my goal when my depression was really bad, it would have been very hard to succeed on such a goal.
Among other things, I got lots of help from friends, did lots of thinking, and worked more and more on personal development.
Step 2 – Deciding To Change – And Changing A Habit
This step might seem quite insignificant, but actually this step is extremely significant because if I didn’t actually decide to get off of the addiction, I probably would have never done it. I don’t remember exactly when, but one day I decided I would get off of my Red Bull addiction. I didn’t know how I’d accomplish the goal, but I decided it was something I had to do.
An Example In My Past Where I Decided To Make A Real Change In My Life
In the past, for a short time, I was actually quite obese. One day, I finally decided to lose a lot of weight, and I actually did over a short period of time. Getting into much better shape and losing a lot of weight was mainly due to my willpower and the initial decision to actually change. When travelling, I am often amused when immigration officers think I am using a fake passport because my current passport has a picture of me when I was obese.
Changing A Habit
The decision to change was all about creating a new habit and changing an old one.
One book I really enjoyed reading, and would recommend to anyone wanting to know more about habits is called The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg. That book goes quite in depth about habits in general, how to change and create habits, and the science of habits. Most habits consists of 3 parts:
1. The trigger
A trigger is the thing that causes the habit to occur in the first place.
For me, my trigger was usually feeling unhappy.
2. The routine
The routine of a habit is the activity which you actually do.
The routine in my case was drinking Red Bull.
3. The reward
The reward from a habit is what actually drives the habit to repeat. It can be as simple as feeling of pleasure.
My reward from drinking Red Bull was the great pleasure from the taste, and feeling a little bit better at least temporarily.
In addition to the 3 parts of a habit mentioned above, another aspect of habits which is also talked about in The Power Of Habit and which is also extremely important, is belief. If you don’t actually believe you can change, then you probably won’t change.
If I didn’t believe that I could get rid of my Red Bull habit, I probably wouldn’t have.
While it may seem very cliché, if I didn’t believe I could get off of my Red Bull addiction, I probably would not have gone through the effort of doing it, wouldn’t have had the willpower to do it, and I probably would have given up very quickly.
The Detriments Of Drinking Red Bull
1. Cost – Red Bulls are quite expensive. It doesn’t matter the country you are in. I’ve had Red Bulls in Spain, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, America, China, Singapore, and other countries. Red Bull is usually expensive everywhere.
When I was living in Hong Kong, I was probably averaging spending between 50 – 54 Hong Kong Dollars per day for a 4 pack of Red Bulls. That amount is between 6-7 USD or 6-7 Euro. I would sometimes buy individual Red Bull cans from grocery stores or convenience stores like 7-Eleven. I would usually only buy 4 packs of Red Bull from grocery stores because they were much cheaper in those places.
2. My health – Ironically, I know Red Bull makes me feel good but it also causes me health problems.
Sugar and caffeine highs could give me a boost quickly, but then I might quickly have a crash afterwards.
Crashing after a sugar and caffeine high can affect your ability to work and stay productive. Also, Red Bulls probably affected my sleep.
The Benefits Of Drinking Red Bull
With every habit there will always be a reward otherwise you’ll never keep doing it. Below are some of the benefits I got from drinking Red Bull
1. Feeling better – As I mentioned before, one of the primary reasons I drank Red Bull was to feel better. Drinking Red Bull almost always makes me feel better, and sometimes I get some nostalgia from drinking Red Bull.
2. I love the taste of Red Bull – I think Red Bull tastes amazing. And the story of how Dietrich Mateschitz worked with a Thai man and made a Thai drink go global is similarly amazing. I’d love if I could have my cake and eat it too with drinking Red Bull, but sadly, I don’t think it’s possible.
Why Did I Decide To Change?
I decided to change because of all of the detriments that I previously mentioned, and also because I finally decided that drinking so much Red Bull was something that was not good for me and if I didn’t change, I could have serious life and health consequences later.
Also, I wanted to take on a challenge to improve myself and see if I could give it up or severely reduce the consumption of something which I have loved for many years but which I know is bad for me.
I also did this challenge to work on my willpower. Willpower is roughly synonymous with self-discipline and involves delaying instant gratification.
Step 3 – Having A Rough Plan
My goal was to get off of my Red Bull addiction. But, didn’t have a very specific goal or a deadline, and my goal wasn’t written down. If I could do this challenge again, I’d try to do something like a SMART goal, and make sure to write down the goal.
I just had a rough idea of how I wanted to work on the addiction, and kept the idea in my head.
Step 4 – Logging/tracking My Progress
With a spreadsheet, I logged how many Red Bulls I was drinking every day. I tried my best to log my progress every day, but at times, I would only log every 2-3 days. And sometimes I would forget how much I drank on a specific day, but this was rare. I used LibreOffice Calc as my spreadsheet software. Google Spreadsheets or Microsoft Excel would also have worked fine. I probably started out in early June 2019 logging my progress daily with drinking about 5 or 6 Red Bulls per day.
Step 5 – Using Willpower
Self-discipline and willpower definitely don’t come naturally to me. But, in order to get off of my Red Bull addiction, I had to exercise lots of willpower. There were times where I felt a lot of psychological pain when I wasn’t drinking Red Bull. I did this challenge completely by myself, but there were certainly times when I wanted to drink more Red Bull quite badly. Red Bull was my main vice in life.
I Didn’t Torture Myself – I Slowly Got Off Of Red Bull
As I mentioned, I started off drinking 5 or 6 Red Bulls per day. Maybe 1 or 2 weeks later I would go down to 4 per day. A few days later I’d go down to 3 per day. When I felt I was ready, I went down to 2 per day and then to 1 per day. And finally to 0 per day.
Along the way, I started replacing Red Bull with healthier alternatives. That was usually tea and pure water. The tea was prepared by me. I would make hot water and mix it it with a tea bag but sometimes make tea from proper tea leaves with a strainer if I had access to high quality tea.
Don’t Go Cold Turkey
One thing I really recommend against doing is called “going cold turkey”. This means immediately and completely stopping yourself from doing whatever it is that you want stop doing.
Let’s say that you are addicted to smoking cigarettes and you usually smoke 20 cigarettes per day. Going cold turkey would mean one day you smoke 20 cigarettes and the next day you smoke 0 cigarettes.
Some people can achieve going cold turkey, but it is quite difficult, and in my experience, there is a high chance you’ll fail and go back to the old bad habit. Additionally, if you try going cold turkey and fail, you might end up making the old habit even worse because you might get demotivated and give up on the idea of improving yourself.
Simple Tricks I Used To Help Me Reduce Temptations And Train My Willpower
One thing I did to reduce my temptation to drink Red Bull and increase my willpower was after buying a 4 pack of Red Bull, I would take a few drinks, let’s say 2 or 3 drinks out of the box, and leave at least 1 can in the box. Usually I then moved the Red Bull box with the cans in it far away, and go back to where I was working so it would be harder to get to the extra Red Bulls.
With this method, my laziness would actually help me because I would be less likely to want to go through the effort of actually drinking other the Red Bulls cans from the box.
Forcing Myself To Drink A Certain Number Of Red Bulls Per Day
One way I prepared my brain psychologically for reducing my intake of Red Bull over time was that I would often commit to drinking a minimum number of Red Bulls per day. The number of Red Bull cans would of course go down over time. But, interestingly, I think that my cravings for Red Bull went down when I knew for certain I would at least get a certain number of cans of Red Bull per day.
Drinking Less Than A Full Can Of Red Bull
Near the end of getting off of my Red Bull addiction, when I was drinking 1 or 2 cans per day, I would sometimes take a Red Bull can and just drink roughly half of it. I would then pour out the rest of the can’s contents into a toilet or sink so that I couldn’t drink the rest. This was yet another way to ween myself off of Red Bull.
Long Term Versus Short Term Pleasure
Some of the biggest payoffs I actually got out of doing this challenge were the feelings of self-respect and accomplishment.
I get lots of short term pleasure and instant gratification from drinking Red Bull. But, I think I got a lot more overall long term pleasure from accomplishing this goal. For me, this was a really big challenge because I love Red Bull so much, and it was quite hard to give up something I loved so much.
I actually like Red Bull a lot more than tea, at least the taste. These days I mainly just drink black tea, green tea, white tea, some types of fruit teas, or just pure water.
I still think Red Bulls taste better than tea, but I know that tea is a lot healthier. Posting about my accomplishment of getting off of my Red Bull addiction in social media and other places made me feel good when others gave positive feedback about accomplishing that.
Takeaways For Accomplishing Your Goal Or Getting Off Of An Addiction
My specific challenge was getting off of a Red Bull addiction. Your challenge can be whatever you want it to be. This challenge took me about 1-2 months to finish. And I didn’t know for certain if I’d actually complete it, though I did have confidence in the beginning.So regarding your goals, you can use the same principles that I used for accomplishing any goal that you want or getting off of most addictions.
Step 1 – Getting Your Mental State And Mental Health Under Control
You may have significant difficulties getting off of any addiction if your mind is not where it should be.
Mental health problems or mental illness is something millions of people around the world deal with, and is nothing to be ashamed of.
If you need, I’d recommend seeing a doctor, counselor, or other qualified professional in the mental health field who would be appropriate for helping you improve your mental health.
No matter what though, we can always be continually improving our mental state through exercise, meditation, and having a healthy diet.
Step 2 – Deciding (And Ideally Committing) To The Change
I decided to do get off of my Red Bull addiction. If I didn’t decide to do it, I probably never would have done it. Likewise, you need to actually decide to work on getting rid of your addiction or decide to work on some goal.
Step 3 – Know Your Target
Knowing your target means knowing exactly what you want to accomplish. This step may require a lot of time in self-reflection but knowing your target will save you a lot of time and headache in the long run. You may have several addictions you want to get rid of or several other kinds of goals that you want to work on.
First, I’d recommend you have just 1 goal, and know very specifically what it is that you want. SMART goals a good way to go about it. As the saying goes, “you can’t hit a target you can’t see”. Ideally, you should be as specific as possible to get the best results for what you want to change.
Step 4 – Log / Track Your Progress
Logging my progress served several purposes. First, it allowed me to visually see how I was doing. I only used a spreadsheet, but making graphs from the data may have been good as well.
I also became more self-aware of my addiction when I was logging. When I reviewed my logs over time, it gave me motivation to keep going. Seeing myself go from 5 or 6 per day down to 3 and below really felt good.
Any goal which can’t be tracked or isn’t measurable is difficult to accomplish. Try your best to come up with objective ways to measure your progress.
Step 5 – Use Your Willpower
Willpower is extremely important in so many aspects of life, and it is necessary when working towards a goal. Thankfully though, willpower can be trained.
If you end up accomplishing your goal or getting off of your addiction, you will likely have improved your willpower, if only by a little bit, but this can benefit you in every aspect of your life.
One great book I’d recommend about developing more willpower is called The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal.
Have Small Goals … Initially
While many motivational speakers recommend having big goals from the beginning, I actually recommend starting out with small goals. After you get experience accomplishing small goals and building up your self-efficacy and self-esteem, you can take on bigger and more ambitious goals as time goes on.
- Developing willpower can be hard. But you can develop your willpower in many ways including working on things you don’t actually like doing but you know that you should do them. For example: eating well, getting up early, meditating etc.
- By doing these types of challenges and completing them, you can develop your willpower in the process.
Once you finish your challenge, you can tell your friends and family or just post about it on social media.
I feel quite confident that you will feel better having accomplished the goal rather than the short term pleasure you’d get from actually the thing you wanted to get rid of.
As I mentioned, I would get short term pleasure from drinking the red bull but I actually felt a lot more pleasure from the long term goal of not drinking Red Bull.
Things I Learned From This Challenge
- Developing willpower and accomplishing goals can be hard. But the overall pleasure of accomplishing goals can be larger than the short term pleasure of indulging in your addiction(s).
- Your mindset and beliefs are very important for being able to improve yourself and accomplish goals. Do your best to adopt a positive, growth mindset, believe in yourself, and really believe that you can accomplish your goal
- I still love Red Bull. But, I know overall Red Bull drinks are a lot more detrimental than beneficial for me.
- Besides being very expensive, I also gained weight from drinking so many Red Bull cans, and my overall health was negatively affected.
What I Would Change If I Did This Challenge Again
If I could do this challenge again, I’d be more specific about the goal. Ideally, I would have planned out each week weeks and more planned out the better habits I’d be replacing the bad habits with.
Red Bull In My Future
Most likely, I am not going to cut myself off of Red Bull completely. But I think I will severely limit my intake of Red Bull. Ideally, I’d like to limit myself to a maximum of 1-2 cans of Red Bull per month. The best scenario would be if I don’t drink any Red Bull cans, but there may be times when drinking one or two would be OK.
But, if I felt that I there was a good chance I’d relapse back into my old bad habit of drinking so many Red Bulls, I’m open to completely cutting myself off of Red Bull forever.
See below for a video I made about How I Got Off Of A Red Bull Addiction.
I hope you enjoyed this article and learned something. If you liked it, I’d appreciate if you could share it with your friends on social media.