Curb the addiction; Caffeine is dangerous

    138
    print

    My name is Libby Davis, and I have a drug addiction.

    No, it’s not as serious as you think. Caffeine is my drug of choice as I am sure it is yours as well. In college, it’s probably the safest drug available and when combined with heavy workloads and sleepless nights, it serves a good purpose – most of the time.

    Last year, I was a bookworm to the extreme. I spent most of my time in my room studying and only relied on the occasional coffee or espresso to stave off the sleep I made sure to get.

    But this year is different, and I find myself reaching for some Starbucks a little more every week. Yes, I know it’s bad for me. I’ve heard all the Food and Drug Administration horror stories. But I didn’t truly understand it until I tried to quit.

    Curious to see the damage being done to me, I Googled it like a good college student. What came up surprised me.

    I found that caffeine is a stimulant. OK, no shocker there. According to WebMD, people across the world consume 120,000 tons of caffeine per year. It must be doing something right.

    But it was the withdrawal symptoms that caught my attention. I had been drinking almost twice the recommended dose for about two weeks and if my levels dropped, so did my mood and productivity.

    It doesn’t really seem like a problem at first. An espresso to keep you up before a big test. The sodas we pour during lunch. A quick bite of extra dark chocolate after dinner. But caffeine is habit-forming, as I discovered over the last few weeks.

    I had my first crash a few days ago after three weeks of steady caffeine intake. It occurred as I stood in a 7-Eleven, contemplating buying caffeine pills as a pick-me-up during the week. I left the store, threw myself into bed and caught up on the sleep I had so badly missed during the week.

    The next few days, I was irritable, plagued by headaches and exhausted. All I wanted was an espresso, but fighting my longings, I settled for an ice cube on the back of my neck when I felt myself drifting off. That night, I went to bed two hours earlier than I had been.

    I suppose if I really wanted to, I could lock myself in my room and study nonstop again. But I wdid that my freshman year and frankly, I want a social life. And therein lies the problem. Yes, I assume a lot of the blame. There have been many nights when lurking on Facebook and YouTube kept me from getting the proper amount of sleep. But with such a fascinating Internet at our fingertips (and on a T1 connection no less), it is easy to sacrifice an hour of sleep for an hour of fun.

    It’s so easy to tell people to use their time wisely. But when it’s just you and your computer, who really has to know about the dirty little secret? Why not just say you went to bed at 1 a.m. when you really mean 3 a.m.?

    In the end, it comes down to personal responsibility. I haven’t had a coffee in two weeks and though the habit and craving is still there, I find I’m a lot happier and a lot less tired.

    Libby Davis is a sophomore news-editorial journalism and history major from Coppell.