Be it coffee, tea or soft drinks much of the world uses these liquids to start their day. Caffeine has become a legal addictive stimulant that in many ways energizes and runs much on our planet. I found out recently that caffeine doesn’t actually give us more energy, it actually quiets the receptors in our body that tell us we are tired. So by ingesting caffeine we are faking out our systems into thinking we are not tired thus acting as if we have more energy.
I am aware that I have a mild caffeine addiction. I can tell the difference on days when I do not have it. I get headaches, feel a bit run down and do not have that sense of pep I usually feel. I have drastically cut down on my consumption and have limited myself to only two glasses a day. I also know that if I drink caffeine after a certain hour of the day I will be up all night. The sad thing to note is if caffeine came on the market right now the FDA would most likely ban such an addictive and destructive ingredient, but because the centuries have allows it to become such a part of our culture and diet it will never leave our food supply.
When I stop and think about how this ingredient is such a major part of my day it bothers me. To think that something that is invisible to the eye can control my behavior makes me feel like such a patsy. It also gives me cause to pause and realize how people who are addicted to more powerful drugs must feel. To lose control to something else and turn over aspects of life to an ingredient seems foolish and weak, yet most of us do it everyday. We don’t want to think about it that way because it is socially acceptable, but that doesn’t make it right. We tell ourselves that it is only a couple cups a day and yet by consuming at these levels we are all addicts and powering our lives through the use of chemicals. Ugh!
To ask ourselves to change and stop using caffeine we also lose all the social and bonding activities that go with drinking it. Coffee with friends, tea in the afternoon, soft drinks at the movies or with a good hamburger. By daring to be the one who doesn’t do what everyone else does we risk ridicule and being ostracized. That may seem extreme but I know that I have friends who do not invite me to go drinking with them because I do not consume alcohol. Being the one who refrains is not always an acceptable social presence. By being different we risk being alone and standing as an example that others do not always want to experience.
As I down my last glass of liquid caffeine for the day I am reminded that facing my own weaknesses is also a call to change. I can live with only two glasses and yet what would life be like if I didn’t consume it at all? Do I have the courage to endure the pain of stopping, or forego the enjoyment I feel by drinking it, and the comfort of fitting in when I consume it in social settings? THAT is really the question. And like Scarlet O’Hara always says, “Tomorrow is another day.”