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Tuesday, September 14, 2004


The Bitch Goddess Caffeine

I drink a lot of Diet Mountain Dew. The average amount of it I consume on any given day is, like all of these sorts of things, cyclical. I have, at times, gotten up to the point where I drink seven or eight cans of it in a twenty-four hour period. If you subtract from that the pathetically little amount of sleep I get per night, let's say that that averages six hours, that means that I go through stretches wherein I consume nearly half a can of Diet Mountain Dew every hour.

Am I right to be disturbed not only by the amount of this soda I drink, but also by the fact that I think about it in the same kind of terms I used to use to describe my cigarette intake? It tells me in no uncertain terms that I am, there can be no arguing, an addict. I've been drinking this neon yellow shit for twelve years now. That's a lot of potassium benzoate, brominated vegetable oil and phenylketonurics that I've put in my body. I'm pretty sure that my innards are completely calcified from years of this sort of abuse. Or at the very least this stuff has to have eaten away at my stomach lining, leaving me seconds away from ulcer-central.

Unfortunately, I cannot look at my insides to ascertain the damage done. The only physical effect that I can detect for certain is the withdrawal headache I get if I don't get enough of it. That's really pretty pathetic. I mean, if you ask me why I drink Diet Mountain Dew, I can't really say, "I love the taste." It tastes pretty much like battery acid. I can't say, "It gives me pep." I've built up such a tolerance to caffeine that I am utterly unable to feel its effects, excepting the occasional bout of the 2:30 AM Why-The-Hell-Can't-I-Stop-My-Mind Jitters when I drink a can after 10:30 at night.

So, if I can't nail down a positive reason I drink this shit, then it boils down to, "Because it hurts if I don't." Which is something that a crackhead or an enema junkie might say. What an awful reason to do anything. "Because it hurts if I don't." This basically makes me caffeine's abuse wife. I may think about just taking the kids and leaving, but caffeine's usually so good to me. I know it really loves me, deep down under all the pain.

My case is not hopeless. When my wife and I were in Europe, I went completely without Diet Mountain Dew. The Spaniards have never heard of the stuff. The French piss from a high place on that sort of relic of American culture (oddly enough, Diet Mountain Dew sort of looks like piss, but that's neither here nor there). When we were over there, I actually made do with good old fashioned coffee. (Well "good" is sort of a misnomer, considering that English and Dutch coffee was a couple notches below "abysmal.") I did start drinking a lot more Diet Coke, or, as the French and Spanish call it, "Coca Cola Lite,"--because, if you're going to use an English word, "lite" is much more descriptive than "diet."

As soon as I hit the States, though, I hopped right back on the Diet Mountain Dew horse and I've been riding it wildly across the plains ever since. I think the time has come for me to dismount.

Going cold turkey would probably leave me with a massive cerebral hemorrhage, so I think I'm going to have to taper off. My goal is to be drinking no more soda by Christmas. Instead I will get my caffeine only from coffee. About five pots of it a day ought to do.

yup, my pack a day habit seems only a little bit saner now--tbo
You have brought up a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I tend to think of myself as an expert on the subject, both from an addict's point of view as well as from a professional one. There are lots of ways to break the wild pony of addiction. Here are a few that seem to work well for caffeine.

1.) Get sick and stay that way for a while. When you get a bad cold or the flu, caffeine (for most people) is the last thing you'll want to consume. That will give you a good jump start; sort of like having the pony crammed up tight in a stall before you hop on.

2.) Become a firm believer in aspirin or tylenol. For short periods, tylenol can be taken at hardy doses to ease a good headache. Aspirin can be taken for longer priods, but some people can't tolerate it that well.

3.) Reward yourself for NOT drinking Mt. Dew. This sounds real hoaky, but it works well for some people. Gradually weaning yourself from the urge to get trampled by the wild pony is an effective way to get motivated about it. Think along these lines; if I don't drink Mt. Dew right now (or any other caffeine) I get to put the money I saved from the cost of one can (or more if you like) toward comic books or something else you've been wanting for a long time but could justify because of the cost. Believe it or not, it works!

The good news is that caffeine isn't as addictive as nicotine, and you quit that, right? You should start feeling better with the reduced intake within a couple weeks.

Just remember; there's a lot of difference between a bucking bronco and an old trusty mare.
When I was being sexually harrassed by the headmaster last year (he kept calling ME "head-master," go figure,) I had a fucking heroin habit that you wouldn't believe. Tootie would bring home balloons full of my tasty...well anyway, that's not the point.

I went cold turkey, on Jo's advice, and man, you can't believe the difference. Be a fucking man and just quit, today. Take one last drag of that piss, stomp the can flat, and walk away.

you should listen to Ms. Garrett. If she is able to run a student store, she can help you kick your horrible addiction.

what the hell's a "good headache," anyway?

I used to have a roommate who would come in every night, sit in his favorite easy chair, drink a can of Diet Mountain Dew, and then fall fast asleep. (That doesn't help much, but your story made me think of it.)

I used to drink up to 8 cans of Coke every day when I was in college. I now have GERD, and in July I had to have my gall bladder removed. I don't know if there is any connection, but my advice to you is to definitely cut down, if not stop drinking this shit altogether. Courage, brother!
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