The evening wanes on in a normal night in recovery when I fill my glass of water to quench my thirst. I walk by the counter, and I see a two-liter of Mountain Dew sitting there. Suddenly, my cravings begin.
I recognize cravings now, and I recognize this one, too. I long for the thick syrupy sweet. I think about the sensation from chugging a little bit of soda, and I crave to feel the carbonation in my throat. I need a sip of it. I just really need it.
I twist off the top of the bottle, with a strenuous effort, I might add. This bottle of soda has been sitting on the counter for two days because it is really hard to open. My hands still have a little red mark on them from opening that same bottle yesterday. I get the bottle open, and I chug.
Warm carbonation fills my throat, tingling all the way down. Just like I knew it would. Just like I wanted. “Ahhhhhh,” I say out loud. Relief fills my cells and my brain.
Sitting down, I ponder. I realize that whole scene was purely addictive behavior. I mean, damn, I actually hurt my hand trying to get this bottle open! Like a junkie, I cannot even walk by the bottle and not crave the sweet soda inside.
I know that I drink too much caffeine. When I first started drinking energy drinks, I preferred the ones that did not taste like energy drinks. I would choose anything over a big, green Monster because I did not like that energy drink taste. Now, I notice that when I really need a mega boost of caffeine energy, I crave a green Monster. I need the taste of a big, loaded energy drink.
This morning, I once again passed the same bottle of Mountain Dew. Again, with my groggy morning eyes, the soda called out to me, and the cravings for caffeine rose in my head. I began to twist off the cap, and my hand hurt so bad that I could not even twist off the stuck lid. I looked down at my hand, red and inflamed from trying to open the bottle previously. But, I needed the caffeine, and I needed it right then. My body yelled at me, encouraging me to consume the caffeine.
I reached for a long, thin knife that sat in my clean dish pile. I held it up in the air, as I plummeted the knife right into the two-liter bottle. One clean twist of the knife, and I had managed to slice a nice big hole in the container. With the confidant feeling of conquer, I poured the rest of the soda into my cup and gulped it down.
I sat back, and marveled in this addict behavior. It is only caffeine, I told myself. Energy drinks do not make me late for work, or too hung-over to do a good job when I get there. In fact, they help to perk me up and make it on time. I do not spend all my money on soda, and I am sure that caffeine has not made my life unmanageable…nor do I think that it will. Yet, I still see this obvious addict behavior with my caffeine.
So, where is it that we draw the line? Caffeine and cigarettes are not considered mind-altering substances, yet their potential for addiction is no secret. Granted caffeine and cigarettes generally will not destroy our lives, but we still may become addicted to it. And the addictions to caffeine and cigarettes are not easily broken. The cravings come on just like the cravings for drugs or alcohol. I just see it, and I want it. Addict behavior.
So, should we also draw the line with caffeine? Or tobacco? Or is that just too much to give up all at once?