“So…how do you know you’re still an alcoholic and addict after all those years?” That’s the question I’m asked from time to time when someone discovers I haven’t drunk any alcohol or taken any drugs since June 11thof 1995. And the answer to that question has become quite obvious to me over the last few months ever since relapsing with caffeine.
Up until the very beginning of this past November, I had purposely always avoided the consumption of caffeinated beverages for probably close to ten years now. I opted to give caffeine up back then mostly because I had become far too dependent on it to keep me awake in the afternoon, to keep me focused on all those mundane day-to-day tasks, and to also regularly provide me a sense of euphoria too, as well as the fact that it had been greatly affecting my moods and physical health by that point. But, when my former cat Smokey died suddenly at only 4 years old, due to a tragic urinary issue on November 1st, I opted to go to Starbucks that night where I’d break my caffeine sobriety in a big way. There, I would have a three-shot espresso-based latte and sample a shot of cold brew on the side. I didn’t sleep a wink for the next 24 hours after that and when that caffeine high began to wore off, I was off and running again seeking out my next caffeinated drink.
There are some people who fall slowly into an addiction, and there are others who fall quickly into them. I’m definitely the latter, as it didn’t take me long for my caffeine consumption to get out of control again. It was as if I had never stopped drinking caffeine at all.
I began building all my days around making it to some type of coffee shop after that initial relapse. I opted to specifically make out of the way visits to coffee shops just to try things I never got to try before during all my years of caffeine sobriety. And I saw how each time I had that caffeine buzz going, I’d look to supplement it with even more so that I didn’t have to come down off that buzz.
Soon, I was staying up into all hours of the night, pushing myself beyond my limits, getting headaches on a regular basis, becoming overly sexual in verbiage while high on caffeine, sleeping very restlessly for a mere four to five hours at times, friends noticing how up and down I was becoming, making promises to them and myself that I’ll stop tomorrow, yet as soon as the exhaustion hit me I’d go right back to it, all the while trying to reduce the amount I was consuming from four shots of espresso to two shots, to half espresso/half decaf, to a single shot and maybe some tea on the side, to eventually forcing myself to skip a day or two here and there, while constantly comparing myself to others who seemed far worse with their caffeine consumption than I, only to relapse back into at some point starting the vicious cycle all over again.
These behaviors are NO different than to how I was when I drank alcohol or drugs or was with any other addiction either. Why? Because addiction is addiction is addiction and the patterns of behavior while engaged in any are always the same.
Nevertheless, my harsh reality now is that I’ve become seriously addicted to caffeine again and yet at the same time, I find myself being strangely thankful for this as well, solely because at least I have the answer to that question as to whether I’m still an alcoholic and addict. I have zero doubt now that if I was to pick up an alcoholic beverage or some type of mind-altering drug, that I would fall hard back into the life of addiction I once knew with both.
So, for as much as I am seriously disliking my hard relapse back into caffeine, I find myself being overly thankful for this great reminder that I was, still am, and always will be an alcoholic and addict and don’t need to ever sample any alcohol or drugs to figure that out.
(Oh, and in case your wondering, as of the time of me publishing this article, I’m 7 days now without caffeine and pray diligently every morning to God to remain free from it for another day.)
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson