Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Okay, I admit it. I have an addiction.

I guess it’s time to face facts, fess up, and admit that I have an addiction. It’s not easy to come to grips with an addiction like mine; the substance is readily available with a variety of means by which to partake of it. Its use is pretty much universally accepted. The irritability I get, along with the accompanying withdrawal headaches when I don’t get my daily fix, can be severe at times. Over the years my regular use of it has given me a greater tolerance for it so that I’m verily immune to lower doses and I keep needing a bigger and bigger jolt to get the monkey off my back.

My drug of choice? Caffeine. Oh, yes, I’m a caffeine junkie.

It started in my youth. Raised in a traditionally conservative English family with liberal views on tea consumption, both hot and cold, it was easy to get started. I cut my teeth on orange pekoe and graduated to Earl Grey. Of course, like any kid I wanted soda all the time, too, and through my teen years the dual thrust of tea and pop allowed me to get hooked, especially as I added coffee to the mix to complete the Holy Trinity. And then graduation summer brought a new and insidious twist: Jolt Cola, with all the sugar and twice the caffeine. Never mind that it tasted like crap, it was tabboo and therefore I had to have it.

Once in boot camp the frenetic pace and lack of sleep, combined with a scarcity of soda, saw me finding a new way to get a fix, running pell mell through the gateway of Vivarin and No-Doz. Portable and easy to conceal once procured, it was a great solution. It was also during this time that I fell into another classic junkie trap of becoming a dealer as well as a user. I’d buy several boxes of Vivarin at a time and sell them to my fellow recruits to support my leisure activities on weekend passes. How enterprising of me, no? Groggy recruits would hit me up on breaks in between training classes, and I’d sell it for a buck a hit. A box had 16 pills, so a $3.00 investment had a return of over 500%. Entrepreneurial free enterprise keeps America strong, guys.

Also in boot camp I pulled another stupid junkie move and sampled too much of my own product one afternoon, and had a bit of an OD. Instead of one tablet every 4 hours, I dropped 3 in 45 minutes. Hey, kids, a word to the wise: this is bad. You get nauseated and feel like your little 18-year old heart is about to explode from inside your ribcage. Bad scene, indeed.

Lack of sleep due to youthful exuberance and late-night club-hopping led me to start off every Friday morning in Germany for two years with 2 Vivarin, a pot of coffee, a couple of 800 mg Motrin, and about half a tube of Rolaids to keep it all down. At Fort Riley I developed a six-pack-a-day habit of Mountain Dew, or as we called it, Carbonated Crack. Again, my tolerance increased, exponentially. Years later I became a dealer of sorts again, as a coffee barista slinging espresso drinks to yuppies. It was far too easy to sample the merchandise, exotic blends of Java from around the globe and sissy drinks with stupid names, and my fellows and I would each down anywhere from 4-10 shots of espresso a shift. Talk about tolerance buildup and flying high as a kite!

These days I’m just as bad as ever. I average about 4 hours of sleep a night unfortunately during the workweek so the Evil Liquid Jumpstart is ESSENTIAL. The ubiquitous “energy drinks”? Hell, I’ve tried at least 30 different brands in 50 different flavors. The list includes Roxx, Monster, Amp, Sobe Adrenaline Rush, Sobe No Fear, Rock Star, 180, Stingers, Coca Cola Blak (nasty!), Full Throttle, MDX, Vault, Lost, Crunk, Pimp Juice, the works. There’s still dozens yet that I haven’t tried, only because I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I started with Red Bull, the original gateway drink. These days a weensy can of Red Bull isn’t even enough to cause my synapses to smolder, let alone ignite. I may as well be drinking a can of Moxie. If you’ve never heard of Moxie, be grateful. It’s like carbonated Jaegermeister without the alcohol. It’s a New England institution despite its taste, but the taste alone will wake the dead.

It’s not a cheap addiction, either. The average can costs about two to three bucks, although you can get Rip It and the Steven Segal Lightning Bolt drinks at Wal-Mart for a buck a can. The energy from one of the cheap drinks is minimal to moderate, but man do they taste good! These days I’m drinking a mix of the cheapies combined with three newer concoctions: NOS, Boo-Koo, and Jones Energy. The passion fruit-flavored NOS is awesome, a delicious can of nuclear release. I haven’t tried their other flavors yet. Boo-Koo packs a decent punch, less than NOS but still enough to animate my corpse. I prefer the Wildberry flavor, but the “Bite” flavor and Citrus are good too. Jones Energy is a second attempt by the Jones Soda Company to do an energy drink. Their first try was about 4 years ago, with a small can of foul-tasting poo called Whoop Ass. I think I was sucked in by the idea of opening a can of Whoop Ass, but was left really disappointed. The new formula tastes great and comes in a bigger can, and does a rather good job of prying my eyelids apart. As of late, I’ve been getting 4-packs of Jones for $3.95 at most Wal-Marts, and a couple area stores have been carrying 4-packs of NOS for $4.95.

So, sorry to ruin your impression that I’m a squeaky-clean upstanding member of the community. No, I’m a vile caffeine fiend, always looking to get hopped up and talk a mile a minute. Please forgive my weakness of the flesh. And hey, while you’re reading, I found this incredible blog where the dude reviews energy drinks. It’s like a caffeine user’s guide for dummies. The URL is

Gotta run…I hear that monkey on my back whispering evil things in my ears……and I have a couple 4-packs of Rip It and a few cans of NOS in the fridge….but…but…..I gotta go to bed in a little while…..so I must put my demons to rest, at least till about 4:30 tomorrow morning.


Randy Barnett said...

I haven't had the coffee addiction. I love a cup in the morning, but a few years ago, my wife switched me to "Lite" coffee and didn't tell me. I dring 2-3 cups a day (sometimes 4), but not as big a buzz.

And I switched to caffeine-free colas a few years ago. My wife had to for medical reasons, and I went along for the ride.

But I do still love a caffeine rush.

Anonymous said...

Caffeine Pills -Effects, Withdrawal and Addiction

Caffeine pills are used worldwide as weight loss remedies and as stimulant drugs. Caffeine pills are the latest rage in the health and fitness industry as well, and they are used extensively as they are known to improve alertness and boost energy in human beings.

Caffeine pills also have side effects, just like any other type of medication, such as increased heart palpitations, headaches, restlessness, insomnia, psychomotor agitation, depression, irritability, disorientation, lack of judgement, peptic ulcers, loss of social inhibition, respiratory alkalosis, hallucinations, erosive esophagitis, etc.

If you ignore the headaches, a major symptom of caffeine withdrawal, that will just make you more tempted to return to the full-caffeine routine, so I recommend you to use pain relievers instead. Just be aware that some pain relievers, like Excedrin, contain caffeine, so you must include that when figuring out your daily caffeine intake! Reducing your consumption of caffeine gradually will also minimize the risk of suffering caffeine withdrawal.

Some people don´t even think about the word “addiction” when they refer to caffeine. As a matter of fact, caffeine is an addictive drug and Caffeine Addiction is a reality in our world that must be treated just like any other addiction.

Some other people frequently say they are "addicted" to caffeine in much the same way they say they are "addicted" to shopping, working or television, and the term "addiction" actually refers to a strong dependence on a drug characterised by severe withdrawal symptoms, tolerance to a given dose and the loss of control or the need to consume more and more of the substance at any cost.

You can find more info at: http://yourcaffeineaddiction.com/