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My name is Janet and I’m a caffeine addict. Worse, my preferred method of ingestion, since I can’t stand the taste of coffee, is Coke, which means I am also a sugar addict. Some alcoholics are regulars at their local bar; me, I’m a regular at 7-Eleven. Like many addicts, I have, from time to time, temporarily kicked the habit, only to allow it to creep back in.

I have rationalized. Coke is easier to come by than enough sleep. I could have some seriously bad habit, like shooting heroin. I deserve a little brown bubbly pleasure. It’s perfectly legal and even kids drink the stuff!

This has become more and more like sticking my fingers in my ears and yelling, “Lalalalalalala!” I have a weight problem. I have a sleep problem. I have a stress problem. I worry about Type 2 Diabetes. I worry about globalization, cultural destruction, and high-fructose corn syrup.

I worry about my immortal soul.

Yesterday afternoon, Brent and I were walking back from the meat market where we buy our grass-fed beef. We decided to get a movie to watch. (Monday is our date night and we had considered going to see the director’s cut of Blade Runner at the Castro. Instead, we rented it and postponed the date until tonight, when we will go zydeco dancing.) At every corner, there are choices and we chose the route to the video store that we don’t normally take. Suddenly, there were three men yelling and running toward us. Two of them, managers at the local grocery store, were chasing the other because he had stolen a bottle of tequila. They chased him down and he ended up slammed into the frame of a garage door. He cut his forehead open. He fell back, hitting his head on the concrete sidewalk. He was dazed and bleeding. There were cops and firefighters, handcuffs and bandages. And a bottle of tequila in the street. One of the managers made the comment that the man was drunk. His addiction led him to this place.

So. Yesterday I drank my last Coke.

Cold turkey is not a good thing. I have done that and it involves throwing up. It means that I am too incredibly sick and achy to get off the couch. If I have to get off the couch under those circumstances, I am, shall I say, not Miss Congeniality. More like a bear just wakened from hibernation early.

I can’t taper off my Coke drinking. I simply lack the character to do it. If there is Coke in the fridge, I will drink it. All of it.

The solution to this dilemma is not a pretty one or a good one, but it does, eventually, work. It is called Excedrin. Excedrin contains enough caffeine to make my teeth stop hurting, enough to make me stop wishing my head would just get on with it and explode. It comes in handy even doses that can be fractioned as I slowly wean myself from the drug. It tides me over while I adjust to the sudden decrease in my sugar intake.

I am one of the lucky ones. I can choose. I have support. I don’t have to go to jail. I am not bleeding.

Except maybe my heart.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 19th, 2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
Yeesh, Janet, why don't you find some middle ground? Don't go cold turkey. OK, the Excedrin makes it so it's not quite cold turkey, but why don't you drink something else that is not quite as bad for you? Tea? Iced tea? At least you can regulate the amount of sugar and caffeine in it. You might not like it, but if you started drinking it you might develop a taste for it. Or how about the supposedly not horribly bad for you cola that they sell in Whole Foods?

Oh, and I may have to quote this line:
I worry about globalization, cultural destruction, and high-fructose corn syrup.
Feb. 19th, 2008 08:20 pm (UTC)
I admire your commitment, though I really have not been up nights fretting that you're going to start knocking over 7-Elevens. (Which, by the way, are an expensive way to feed your habit. Don't you do what my brother-in-law--who is a Diet Coke fiend--does and buy it by the case?)

I third the suggestions to add a mild caffeine source to your diet, one that isn't as compelling (or high-sugar, high-caffeine) as Coke but will ease you down slowly. Caffeine withdrawal is tough. My dad always said that the hardest part of Yom Kippur wasn't the hunger, it was enduring a whole day after missing his morning cup of coffee.

Good luck!
Feb. 20th, 2008 12:11 am (UTC)
Excedrin has caffeine
and it doesn't taste good, so I am not tempted to take more of it than necessary to make the symptoms go away. What I do is take some when I can't hack it anymore. I try to make each dose last a little longer. Then I cut down the dose from two to one, then eventually from one to half. At that point, I try some other painkiller without caffeine. Sooner or later I am caffeine free and I say, "Wow! The world is a shiny new place!"

At that point, the real challenge occurs: continuing to stay caffeine-free when life gets more hectic or I have a night of bad sleep. I've always caved. With luck, not this time.
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:00 am (UTC)
Re: Excedrin has caffeine
when life gets more hectic or I have a night of bad sleep

Yeah. The key is to remember that caffeine does not make you feel less stressed and it sure as hell doesn't help your sleep. But that's reason talking and addiction is louder.

I think green tea seems nicer than Excedrin, but you know what works for you.
Feb. 20th, 2008 01:36 am (UTC)
Re: Excedrin has caffeine
Problem is that I just don't like green tea. I've tried. It's not my friend. I had some nice caffeine free orange herbal tea this afternoon, though.

Thanks for the reminder about the reason involved. I'll try to remember at the key moment!
Feb. 20th, 2008 06:09 am (UTC)
...then why not try orange flavored black tea as a transitional beverage? You can regulate the amount of caffeine and sugar in it. Or do you feel the same about green tea than you do about black?

When I gave up coffee, I waited until I was sick, since that was normally the only time I didn't drink coffee. I had the flu, and I felt so crappy that the caffeine withdrawal symptons all got mixed in with the flu symptoms and were indistinguishable. I felt miserable for about a week, then the flu and the coffee addiction were gone. Miserable week, but my stomach was very grateful -- coffee was making it very unhappy.

Of course I didn't give up caffeine -- that's when I switched to tea. Much easier transition
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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