Citation: hooked. "Coffee Slave: An Experience with Caffeine (exp93117)". Erowid.org. Nov 2, 2012. erowid.org/exp/93117
I am an addict. The first thought that crosses my mind upon waking up is getting my fix for the day. Without it, I am tired, irritable, and achy.
It probably sounds like I'm talking about some kind of hard drug. But no, I'm talking about one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world -- coffee.
It's been an on-and-off struggle since high school. I started having a cup a day when I was younger, just to help get my brain kick-started. With the newfound freedom and stress of high school, I saw no problem with drinking two, sometimes three cups every morning.
I managed to quit after I signed up for the cross country team -- no sense in running five miles if I have to stop and piss every step along the way. I experienced a mild headache and some heart palpitations, which disappeared after two or three days. No problem.
Autumn arrived when the running season ended -- the air was crisp, the leaves were falling, and halloween decorations began appearing around the neighborhood. I decided to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season by kicking back some coffee -- first one cup, then two, then three. I became hyperactive, twitching and pacing like a nervous father-to-be, but after a few days of consumption the effects mellowed out. Coffee ceased to be fun; it had become a need once again.
Summer vacation was a bummer. The economy had died and gone to hell, leaving me stuck home with no job and no gas in the car. In retrospect I enjoyed it; I was a stay-at-home kinda guy anyway, and I could just spend my whole day playing on the computer if I wanted to. But boredom is a dangerous thing -- I was drinking a whole pot of coffee a day, plus at least four cans of soda. I was beyond hooked.
Caffeine's appetite suppressing qualities resulted in an interesting diet. I woke up around nine in the morning and poured my coffee. I usually consumed two or three cups before I got around to eating breakfast, which consisted of one or two cheese sticks. At about two in the afternoon, I had a bag of popcorn. That was lunch. I managed to eat most of my dinner in the evening, but only because my mom would get worried if I didn't. For a teenager who was already underweight, coffee was proving to be dangerous.
The end of summer rolled around. I found myself signing up for the cross country team again. I managed to gradually reduce my consumption by mixing decaf with regular coffee. I was down to a cup a day in no time.
This was a vicious cycle that repeated itself for the four years that I was in high school -- an entire pot per day during summer vacation, no more than a cup a day during cross country season, three cups a day when the season ended, and an entire pot once again when summer vacation rolled around.
It was during the summer after my junior year of high school that I had my first real caffeine withdrawal. My parents were very religious, forcing my brothers and I to go to church. Well, they were into it, but I wasn't buying the right-wing propaganda. Anyway, they also made me go to a church camp in the summer, which was one of the most colossal wastes of time in my life. A bunch of gullible kids would cry because they were sinners, vow to live their lives for god, go home and try to convert their friends so that they wouldn't be cast into hell by this god, and then forget about all of it in a week.
At any rate, I usually had access to coffee during these stupid camps. But this particular one occurred after our youth pastor had left the church. Some bumbling idiot from the church administration took over and turned it into a complete clusterfuck. We rode horses for an hour, went on a brief canoe trip, and spent the rest of the camp sitting on our moldy beds watching shows on a smuggled television. To top it all off, there was no coffee.
The morning of the first day, I was irritable and had a mild headache. By that evening, my headache had morphed into a head-splitting migraine of epic proportions. I couldn't even interact with people. My body felt like it was made of gelatin. I vaguely remember passing out on my bed for a few hours but had no idea how I got there or how I fell asleep. The heart palpitations were so bad that I thought about going to the hospital.
This hellish existence became more tolerable as the days went on. By the fourth day, when we all boarded that bus to go home, I was feeling almost normal. That all ended once I got my hands on the coffee maker, of course. I was back to a pot a day.
Fast forward a few years. I graduated high school, got married (young, I know), and had moved over 1,000 miles away to be in Maine with my wife. It's a long story. At any rate, I promptly got her pregnant, at which point I realized that maybe I should be doing something about this dependency problem. The solution was simple -- buy a smaller coffee pot. It could only contain a small amount at a time and I permitted myself to make only one pot a day. My consumption fell to two cups a day.
Nine months later, my son was born. Let me tell you something, newborns are something else. Forget sleep. Forget eating or using the bathroom when you want to. It was a complete loss of control that I'm just now getting accustomed to. But the hardest part was losing sleep. For the first month, my son had night and day mixed up, meaning my wife and I would take turns pulling all-nighters. Even after he got his days and nights switched around, he simply did not sleep. He was, and still is, a very fussy, high-needs baby who has trouble sleeping. It's been a very hard, but very rewarding experience.
At any rate, I bought a bigger coffee pot. My son is now fourteen months old and sleeping better, but I'm still going through a whole pot every morning and can't foresee myself quitting any time soon.
Sure, I've made efforts to quit. Not too long ago I replaced coffee with tea and managed to do quite well for a while. But stress got the best of me and I went back to coffee. I have no doubt that my body chemistry is perhaps permanently altered by my constant indulgence.
I believe that the black brew will always be there, calling my name, beckoning me to partake of the bitter water that has become the cornerstone of my life. It's not a choice, it's a need. A need that won't disappear until they are throwing dirt over the box in which I permanently reside.
Coffee is great in moderation. But the slightest over-indulgence will lead to addiction that, in my opinion, is stronger than cocaine.
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