This is sort of a more serious article, so I apologize in advance. Usually I do rants, gaming, or more lighthearted stuff, but this is something I’ve been dealing with for a while, so I’m just going to get it out. The thing about caffeine addiction is it’s not like something along the lines of nicotine, alcohol, or various drugs; it’s something that anybody at any age can get quite easily and with no real effort.
Caffeine is also not entirely negative. It works as a metabolic booster, mild diuretic, can relieve muscle soreness, boost your senses, and of course, help you stay awake. The thing is that caffeine, like any drug, is just that. Overuse of caffeine leads to more negative and even dangerous side effects and its effectiveness wanes over time and constant use.
But there’s one aspect of caffeine addiction that most people don’t really think about: caffeine withdrawal. About a year ago, I was going to try to quit caffeine slowly. I decided that after I ran out of soda, I would not buy anymore and I would simply switch to green tea. And honestly, I was able to keep that up for a while…with a few mild side effects.
For starters, I was constantly tired. I pretty much had to take a nap every single day and unfortunately, it was very hard to get up from those naps, which would then kill almost all productivity of that day to the point that I actually called off from work a few times so I could nap more because I thought I was getting sick.
Second, I had a constant taste for soda. While I hadn’t had soda in a long time, every so often I would just think man, a soda would really hit the spot right now. Often I would then “taste” soda on my taste buds. I decided that maybe the problem was that the green tea really wasn’t helping enough and that switching to something like chai might help.
I was correct, but in the wrong way. Sure, the overwhelming scent of chai immediately calmed me and helped me tough through my days, but it also had more caffeine. Yeah, I started feeling better and started becoming more productive, but not because it was chai. Not too shortly after that, I decided I would get some hard alcohol, and what do I always buy with hard alcohol to mix with it?
That’s right…soda. I even deliberately got root beer so there was no caffeine, but it didn’t matter. Within a few days, I was back to popping pepsi max all over again like I’d never stopped. And the thing about me and soda is it’s not like I just drink a couple a day. See, I have a tendency to drink one as I get up, one as I take the kids out to the bus stop, one as I come back in, one on the way to work, one once I get to work…yeah, I can literally go through a 12 pack in one day easy.
Flash forward to this month. I wanted to completely cut out all alcohol and soda and concentrate on cardio at the gym. Why? I shaved my head because I was started to get weird sores and stuff on it, so I wanted to treat it more effectively. Then I got the bright idea to go as Walter White for Halloween because I’m kind of a dead ringer, but I figured I should probably be a little skinnier to make it work.
I started taking mucinex as well and it cleared out my bronchitis in a MINUTE. All was well…then the disorientation started. It couldn’t have been a lack of water; I keep a water bottle with me at all times at work and refill it several times a day. I was also eating well, sleeping well, etc. I initially figured it was just the mucinex, so when I stopped taking it and it was still happening, I realized what was going on.
That’s right, as soon as I had a pepsi max, all symptoms of disorientation, dizziness, sudden drowsiness, etc. completely disappeared. It doesn’t help that there’s a massive sale on pepsi max right now either, thus prompting me to buy it in bulk. I joke around at work and often bring in a case of pepsi max with me to share, but mostly so I can just get rid of it.
At this point it has literally become a chemical dependency. So where do we go from here? Well, I’ve contemplated switching from pepsi max to just standard pepsi, then maybe to an off brand, then to caffeine free…but I’m especially worried about what has happened the previous times. So I’ve thought I can counteract these negative effects by working out more and such, but the thing is it doesn’t seem that there is any true remedy other than completely swearing it off and suffering the effects.
What I will say is caffeine is a hell of a lot more dangerous than most people think and if at all possible, you should absolutely encourage your children to stay the hell away from it. I’m really not sure how I’m going to handle this, but I know something must be done. Hopefully one day it’ll be all about tea or maybe not even any caffeine at all ever again.