9 days. 9 damn days to get it fully out of your system. We don’t treat it like a drug, but when you are ready to leave caffeine at the barista counter, you realize how addicted you are to the physiological effects it produces inside your body. Coffee is a drug all right, and we’re its junkies.
Our dependency has made the coffee shop a $30 billion industry in the U.S., as Americans guzzle down an astonishing 7.5 pounds of that exotic yum yum into our tum tums. Our growing needs have made Starbucks and friends almost twice as much moola in 2014 as they garnered in 2004. I’m not even counting the caffeine industry as a whole. Add energy drink consumption and you have another $12 billion dollars spent by MMO nerds, EDM goers and suburban white boys who jump off of cliffs and call it Extreme “Sports”, chugging down their adrenaline boosting 5 Hour Red Bull Monster Rockstars. I should really learn how to invest in products before they explode in the marketplace.
Coffee is an elephant. It is ubiquitously known as a morning beverage, or as some advertising suggests, “the best part of waking up”. Yet, it causes such a dependency that many people claim that they can’t function without it. It’s even socially acceptable to be an asshole if your body is going through withdrawal, “I’m sorry for trashing your desk because you were two minutes late delivering the weekly reports, Kevin. I…I just haven’t had time to get coffee today and…you know…I get a little loopy when I don’t have my morning cup o’ joe. Tee hee.” If someone who didn’t have their morning heroin acted like that…well…I don’t know how a heroin addict would function in an office environment…but let’s say there was a similar situation, that dude would’ve been fired, arrested, and sent to jail for using a drug, while having to face intense detoxing in a tiny prison cell as if he were a psychopath dealing with voices in his head. Yes I compared coffee to heroin, because the chemistry behind both addictions is very similar, one just happens to be acceptable to take freely in society.
Drink, Coffee Every Day
I drink coffee every day. Well, technically, I drink a medium caramel latte with coconut milk at Starbucks or an equivalent at other coffee shops. Yes, I still call it a “medium” at Starbucks. Until every other coffee shop starts calling it a grande, I am going to stick to the word commonly used to describe the size between small and large. Plus, it’s fun watching some Starbucks’ employees get irked by my lack of conformity, ”Don’t you mean you want a GRRRAAANDDDDE! Please make this guy a GRRRAAAANNNDDDEEE caramel coconut milk latte. Anyway, so I see you’re brown, wanna talk about race?”
I don’t care for just straight black or even coffee with non-dairy milk (I’m lactose intolerant) and sugar, because lattes have more texture and flavor to me. Though, I have been in situations, like the one I was in Paris, where coffee shops didn’t carry non-dairy milk alternatives. So I drank the coffee black with sugar. Even though I hated it, I drank it, because I’m addicted and convinced myself that I need to start the day with some coffee!
Addicted in Adulthood
I didn’t drink coffee much when I was growing up, and neither did my parents. We had instant coffee at home, but that was only brought out from the back of the cupboard on special occasions. It wasn’t till I started telecommuting for work that I started getting into the trend. I would work at home all day and eventually got so pent up being inside of the house that I started looking for a change of location where I could continue programming. At that time coffee shops were becoming internet connected offices for telecommuters and study halls for college kids. So like many others, I went to a coffee shop, popped out my laptop, mouse and headphones, and started cranking away, after a couple of hours of fucking around on Facebook, of course. Though, it was more like MySpace and Friendster, “back in the day”.
I was using the coffee shop’s space, internet, and electricity, so I bought a latte to support them. I went out to a coffee shop a couple of times a week, which then turned into several times a week, and then to every day. Some days I would get 2 or 3 lattes, ingesting 16ozs with caffeine, sugar and milk into my poor body. A $5 latte turned into a thousand dollar per year addiction. Before I became lactose intolerant, I was even having drinks like the Nutella Mocha, which was a diabetes filled mixture of coffee, Nutella, and milk.
I started realizing that drinking this on a daily basis was having a negative affect. It gave me a nice boost when I first ingested the caffeine, but similar to every drug, after a few hours my body yearned for more. If I didn’t take another dose I started feeling anxiety, irritability, lethargy. I wasn’t sleeping well, and when I woke up I was groggy. When I couldn’t sleep at nights I was introduced to melotonin, so I took that, but again, it didn’t cure the problem, it exacerbated it, because now one part of my brain was trying to stay up and the other wanted to be knocked out.
A couple of years ago, I decided to quit and I went at it cold turkey. I thought it would be easy, it’s just coffee after all. How hard can it really be to give up coffee? As the minutes and hours went by without a daily dose of my precious, my head started pounding, and my body started shaking worst than an epileptic kid living in a state without medical marijuana laws. I was grinding my teeth and was extremely irritable. You probably wouldn’t want to have been around me and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to be around anyone else. I researched information on quitting coffee and it said that the symptoms I was having were from withdrawal and that it can take 9 days for them to disappear. They were the same symptoms I got when I didn’t have caffeine for a few hours, but much more pronounced. Shit, kicking cannabis after years of being a pot head had less withdrawal symptoms attached.
After a few days without coffee my body was feeling worn out, my face looked tired with my eyes drooping as if I was a subject in a Picasso painting. The worst part was not being able to go to the coffee shop for a breather. I was stuck inside the house, detoxing. Sure I could go and get some tea instead, but that would be like an alcoholic going to a bar and getting a sprite. Plus, most teas are practically tasteless to me. I might as well just order a cup with hot water.
Eventually, the withdrawal ended and I didn’t feel the need for coffee. I started sleeping well and waking up refreshed. I stopped using melatonin because the caffeine wasn’t trying to keep me up.
It was all short lived. I was able to refrain from coffee for quite some time, and every several weeks I had a cup as a treat. I probably should’ve stayed away all together, because after several months of being a good little boy I convinced myself that I’m not addicted anymore and that I could start and stop whenever I wanted. I made the mistake of having a cup two days in a row…then three…and now I’m drinking a medium caramel latte with coconut milk (or equivalent) every day.
I find myself at that place again, where I have to quit. I must quit. Coffee drinkers will say shit like, “It’s just coffee man” or “Just get a decaf”…shut up you druggies! I need to quit. I must, I should, maybe after one more cup, I’ll quit tomorrow, or maybe this weekend, I should just stop now, after I post this, I don’t know, will he quit or will he continue down this reckless path, join us next time to find out. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.