I didn’t use to drink coffee, but about ten years ago my office moved to a building with a Starbucks on the first floor, and my addiction began. For a while I was drinking two Venti Brewed Coffee per day (one in the morning and one in the afternoon), which is roughly the equivalent of 10 Espressos, although I didn’t know it at the time.
I began to notice that if I didn’t drink coffee for more than a day, I started to have a terrible headache, and it would evolve into something that felt like the flu without a fever.
This was disconcerting, so I tried to stop several times, but it was so easy to just drift into a coffee shop and come out with a coffee. I found myself strategizing about where I would get my fix. I don’t mean to compare my addiction to addictions that ruin people’s lives or even kill them, but I could understand how a more dangerous addiction could be rationalized and take over a life.
Sometime before our first son was born, I quit cold turkey. It took about month of slowly receding agony and malaise, but it led to a period of relative calm and clarity over the first months of our son’s life. Then I slowly fell back into the addiction. It started with allowing myself to have a coffee whenever I met someone at a coffee shop, and grew into needing it every day.
I thought about cutting back, but the prospect of going through withdrawal was enough to keep me from making a serious effort. Then a friend explained that people can easily build a tolerance for caffeine, but they can also pretty easily scale back without much difficulty (not true with many other drugs). I don’t know if this is accurate or not, but it gave me a strategy, and I’ve slowly cut back all the way to one Decaf Americano per day.
Maybe it’s a mirage, but in general I feel calmer and more balanced. Sometimes I feel in a bit of a haze and want to use coffee to wipe out that haze, but I’m hoping that over time the haze will fade. I’ve heard, though, that prolonged usage of caffeine can change your brain for good, so we’ll we’ll see.
This struggle sounds sort of silly, but I’m glad not to be depending on a beverage to function. I do love coffee and tea, though, so I’m not sure how long it will last. Maybe this is an opportunity to understand moderation and self-control.