Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Acceptable Addiction

It's funny what is acceptable and what isn't. If it isn't acceptable to say that you're an alcoholic even on the wagon, it is acceptable to say that you're a caffeine addict on or off the wagon. What's the difference? You never get over either. Addiction actually changes the wiring of your brain. They're both legal (in the US). They both seem to be encouraged. Well, caffeine is encouraged for kids too. Both are an acquired taste. My 11 year old son has only recently breached the pop barrier, though he still prefers water. Coffee, beer and wine are still gross.

So, i tell people that i'm a caffeine addict, but on the wagon. They ask, "Why?" It's not why i got addicted, but why on Earth i'd give it up. Well, it has this feature that it flushes calcium from my body, and that affects my joints first, and gives me arthritis. "Oh." And i know they're thinking that it could happen to them, though it clearly doesn't happen to everyone, and they think maybe they'll get lucky, despite osteoporosis running rampant among the older population. Perhaps they think that they won't get older. I could happen, right? There is an alternative to getting older.

I know what you're thinking. Alcohol affects your mind, your judgment. That's what makes it different. Except that caffeine also affects your judgment. It makes you jittery. It make you buy more of that stuff you can barely tolerate. It makes you go to the bathroom more often. It also messes up your sleep patterns, reducing your mental performance. That's right. You took caffeine to improve your mental performance, but eventually you come out behind.


DQKennard said...

Mountain Dew used to be my drug of choice when I did all-nighters. Lots of sugar, lots of caffeine, and I liked the flavor. What's not to love? I think, though, that what really kept me awake all night wasn't the sugar and caffeine but that I had to get up every fifteen minutes to go pee.

Now, I hardly ever drink carbonated beverages, only sometimes have caffeine, never do all-nighters, and generally avoid liquids and caloric intake after about 9PM.


What's the difference between "hardly ever" and "only sometimes"? Is that like the subtleties of a meteorologist's description of the cloudiness/sunny spectrum?

My Mom tells a story in which she was visited in a hotel by my sister and sister-in-law. Mom had some gin, but no mixers, as that's how she drank it (drier and drier martinis over the years until she realized she didn't like vermouth), but the others couldn't handle that. The closest thing to a mixer in the vending machine was Mt. Dew. They figured that was *some* improvement over straight gin. I'm not convinced.

Stephen said...

The first issue is which is more, "hardly ever" (what, never?) or "only sometimes"? I'd say it's a wash.

But if you say "hardly ever" twice, it sounds repetitious and/or redundant. We have all these words in English, and we think that we've got to use them.

Stephen said...

Mt Dew was my drug of choice too. In 2002, when i identified caffeine as what was causing my bursitis, i switched to Sprite. It took me two weeks to discover the next new truth. I don't like Sprite. I'd always thought i liked it.

But 60 oz of Mt Dew was something like 700 calories. So, when i switched to water, i dropped 35 lbs in about 10 months.

I've gained it all back, and more. And in the new diet, i can't just drop soda (pop in Michigan, Tonic in parts of Boston). I've already dropped it. I'm astounded at how little i can eat and be stuffed to the gills. It's cheaper now, at restaurants. I guess that's a plus. I don't have a burger and fries anymore, because all i can eat is a small burger. Tops.

Anonymous said...

I have been struggling to quit drinking all of that espresso for years.