By calling my caffeine addiction “ol,'” I’m not exaggerating. I don’t remember exactly when I started drinking coffee , but it was an immediate fit. Sometime around age 12, I started having a cup of black joe in my I Love Lucy mug alongside my cream-cheese and strawberry Toaster Strudel. I think two things spurred this coffee drinking at such an early age: (1) I sincerely needed a little boost in the morning, and (2) I was an only child, and, therefore, always felt the need to be more adult-like than the usual rugrat who has a few siblings. Sitting alongside my dad while I read the comics and he read the obits just seemed like the perfect accessory for my altogether mature 12-year-old self.
This one-a-day coffee habit held steadily throughout high school. Then, college came. I worked late, and I needed more hours than the day was giving me. It was not uncommon to have 3-4 cups a day. No biggie. After college, came more work and graduate school. This is when I switched from JFG to Starbucks morning blend and/or Dunkin Donuts, which has about 50-75 more milligrams than the store-brand drip coffee. This was like giving a drug abuser some purified crack cocaine. There was no turning back. My addiction reached a new level. Without specifically having the name-brand coffee every morning, I would become irritable, not to mention the intense headaches.
Then, came my first year of teaching last year, and this was the worst. I was having 4-5 cups of the name brand coffee every day (about 700 milligrams of caffeine!). It was no longer giving me my high, but it was just helping me survive. I shuddered to think of life without it. I could down a cup of Dunkin Donuts at 9 pm, and then hit the sack at 10 pm. Meanwhile, Josh would be up half the night after having one cup of caffeinated hot chocolate after lunch. Oh, how I envied him. This continued all through last year, and this past September, I decided that it was time for a change because this substance was controlling my life. I had tried to wean myself off of caffeine on numerous occasions, but it never worked. This time I was determined.
With a gradual decrease, I am now only a decaf coffee and green tea consumer. I don’t have more than 50 milligrams a day, and I can actually function without anything. If I want, I can get up and immediately go on a walk or run. No more waiting around for the caffeine to start pulsing through my veins. It’s wonderful to feel free. However, like any substance abuser, I do have moments were I still crave the coffee. In fact, just writing about it makes me smell that wonderful, freshly brewed coffee. Is there anything wrong with going back to one cup a day? Certainly not, but my addiction has made one cup virtually impossible. Right now, I’m just glorying in the freedom of breaking free and being back in control. I’ve been at it for about five months now; let’s hope it lasts this time.