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Caffeine dependency is real and dangerous

Caffeine dependency is real and dangerous

This article is not politically charged. But you clicked on it, so you must be interested. Also, there may come a day when caffeine is banned along with large sodas and smiles, and when that day comes, a good many of you may be suffering more than you think.

I drink a cup of coffee or, if I’m feeling extravagant, a latte, once a day. Not first thing in the morning – but usually as a pick-me-up after lunchtime. It energizes me and comforts my nearly-always frigid bones (it’s snowing as I write this).

I’ve never been one of those, “I need caffeine to get out of bed,” kind of people. I simply enjoy the flavor, pep, and ceremony provided by a cup of Joe.

The other day I did without. It wasn’t a conscious decision. I just got too busy to fix myself a mug, or maybe I wasn’t in the mood, or maybe it was a balmy 45 degrees outside instead of 35. I don’t remember, and it doesn’t matter.  That same afternoon saw me starting with the sniffles. My body temperature was elevated, and I had the distinct sense that I was coming down with something.

I cursed the germ-infested Gold’s Gym I had visited the day before and went home to rest. I drank liquids and took Vitamin C, but did not improve. The next day I felt as though I had been beaten up. I had a headache that felt like sinus pressure, and a stuffy nose.

As a young, healthy person, 12 hours of sleep usually banishes whatever is ailing me. When the magic cure failed me, I considered, and on a whim, Googled “caffeine withdrawal symptoms.” Headache, sleepiness, lethargy, irritability…these did not surprise me. Lower down on the list, however, was “Muscle pain/stiffness,” and “flu-like symptoms.” “Stuffy nose, blocked sinuses, and even vomiting have been reported by people withdrawing from caffeine.”

Ahhhhhhh! Even with low to moderate daily caffeine consumption, I have been turned into a monster! According to the Wall Street Journal, “Quitting caffeine is now listed as a mental-health disorder.” People become addicted to it and go to rehab to detox. I knew caffeine was powerful, but I guess I didn’t know how in-control of caffeine I was until I went without.

I decided I didn’t want to be sick anymore. I needed to do my job well. This morning I caved and had a latte. I do not feel comfortable being reliant on a stimulant to function healthily, so tomorrow, after I’m back to 100% (I’ve begun feeling better already), I’m going to transition to half-caf, then tea, then probably chocolate for emergencies.

It could happen to you. You have been warned.

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