Tuesday, November 14 2006
I've been drinking very little alcohol since early October. Today I kicked up my self-denial another notch and stopped drinking all forms of caffeine. I've done this at least twice before; once in the Spring of 1990 and more recently in February of 2005. In the past I've always had headaches when abstaining from caffeine, but today I didn't notice any until evening, many hours after my body expected me to have drunk caffeine.
More obvious was the decrease in alertness and attention span when going about my day. Caffeine was never far from the forefront of my thoughts. This craving was much greater than any I have ever had for, say, alcohol. On some level I mostly felt like I had a mild illness. It allowed me to catch up on my teevee viewing.
Normally I drink three or four cups of strong coffee every morning and then five to eight cups of caffeinated Red Rose tea throughout the rest of the day. That's about a gram of caffeine per day (three times the national average) and it must have been having a strong effect on my body. Still, for all its powers as a drug, caffeine is one of the most benign. Some studies suggest that it can improve memory and stave off the onset of Alzheimer's Disease.
This experiment with denying myself caffeine is not intended to be a long term project. I love caffeine and my addiction to it far too much to give it up permanently. Instead, I want to reaquaint myself with the way I am outside its influence. I'd also prefer it to be a drug that I can take on occasions when I need a little extra mental capacity. Ideally those occasions wouldn't happen every morning, although my morning coffee ritual is a cherished component of who I am and it seems unlikely I'll avoid it for long.
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