My name is Karen and I’m a gratefully recovering caffeine addict. I cannot put into words how difficult it was for me to become abstinent. If I can do it, anyone can. I am so grateful that I endured the initial losses, which seemed many. Initially after abstinence, I felt Flat. Bored. Boring. Tired. Headachy. Fat. Oh, how I missed caffeine and my coffee. Life seemed Blah.
I grew up in a family of addicts. I used drugs heavily as a teenager. By the grace of God, I gave up street drugs, but I continued to use coffee. By my mid-20’s, I was carrying around strong coffee in large pasta-sauce jars. I was in complete denial about how jacked up, impatient, self-important, anxious, insecure and high coffee made me. I loved it! I would get up early – even if I was exhausted – just so that I could enjoy my first strong cup of coffee alone, without my family around. I craved my first cup as if it was a spiritual experience – I now see that it was just a drug experience. After the first very strong, large cup, my heart would race. I’d get lockjaw. Still, I’d drink more.
Throughout my coffee career, I developed tons of gastro-intestinal problems; I was in denial. My spouse repeatedly gave me feedback about my impatience: still in denial. I was often stressed and I looked drained: Denial. I had a hard time sleeping, which affected my moods and health: Denial.
Go, go, go. Move out of my way, world!
- Caffeine helped me to feel self-important.
- I used caffeine (counter-intuitively) to manage my anxiety.
- I used caffeine to avoid my feelings.
- I used caffeine for weight loss.
- I used caffeine for a fun high.
- Caffeine prevented me from being as loving and present as I wanted to be with my children, my partner, and my loved ones. What a loss.
As I aged (I’m in my 50’s) and grew close to the age when my father died of a sudden, massive heart attack, I became worried about having a caffeine-induced heart attack or stroke, or ruining my bladder. I put myself on a tapering program, attended as many Caffeine Addicts Anonymous telephone meetings as I could, and found the humility to reach out to strangers on the phone list.
What I’ve learned since I’ve been abstinent from caffeine:
I’m a fairly calm person! I’m kinder, calmer, and connected with myself. I’m content most of the time. Isn’t that funny? All those years I thought I was too strident, too this and not enough that. Turns out that many of these behaviors were simply the effects of the drug, not me.
We live in a caffeine-praising world. The real need for caffeine abstinence that some of us share is minimized. Many can use caffeine moderately; I cannot. If I relapse, it’ll be with ‘just a small amount’, then soon I’ll be back to the races. Caffeine changes my personality and blocks my connection with my higher power. Caffeine ruins my health. Caffeine destroys my self-respect and dignity, and what’s more important than that?
To this day, even though I’m fully abstinent, I can feel the pull of the delicious coffee aroma. I stay connected to this wonderful fellowship as a defense against the part of me that forgets how bad my caffeine habit got.
If you’re reading this and are worried that caffeine is destroying your wellness: Trust yourself. Your higher self is speaking to you right now.