Tuesday, May 8, 2018

My Only Addiction

It’s too easy to look down on addicts. If you have never experienced such an affliction, you can feel smugly superior to the poor souls who allowed themselves to succumb. How pathetic they are, and how low they descend, risking everything for a fix.

I don’t seem to have the personality or misfortune to have had such challenges.

The first is a matter of propensity over which anyone can make decisions not to risk exposure. Long ago, at the age of five or six, I watched my nicotine-dependent father go out on a stormy, drenching rainy Friday night, hail a cab (expensive) to the outskirts of town, (Jerusalem) where the one and only small kiosk sold cigarettes on the Sabbath. He thought he had stashed an extra pack, but couldn’t find it.
It was a lesson in what not to do. No cigarettes, ever. Don’t want to have to haul that monkey on my back.

The second, the matter of luck, has to do with things that can happen and leave a person dependent. With two herniated discs in my lower back, I remember realizing how addiction to painkillers can start, and how understandable and insidious the process is.
That was two years plus ago. When my doctor prescribed narcotics, I never took them. I chose not to haul that monkey on my miserably aching back, either. But some folks don’t know what the doctor had given them before it’s too late, and the climb out of that hole is steep.

But I don’t feel superior, because I do have a sort of addiction, or maybe it’s closer to a dependence. Can you guess to what?

Yes, I can stop. I did without difficulty while pregnant. Twice.
And, NO, I don’t want to.

So there. Maybe this feeling of "I *need* my coffee" gives me a peek into addiction, and maybe what I really need is that insight and compassion in addition to the caffeine. Because smugness is unattractive and worse.

Oh, and one other thing--


Evelyn said...

We used to tease my mom about being 'addicted' to her coffee. To prove to us she wasn't, she would set aside one week a year (between Christmas and New Years) when she would totally abstain. During that week, she would sit at the table with a cup of hot water instead of a cup of coffee, which we kids thought was interesting. She didn't become a coffee drinker until after her early adulthood. She once said that it took 3 churches and 4 children to make her into a coffee drinker. Since I was #4, I guess you could say that I drove my mother to drink. LOL

Mirka Breen said...

Oh, my. What a burden to carry ;)
I'd say your mom did very well by her #4

Barbara Etlin said...

Hee hee!

Barbara Etlin said...

I did stop drinking coffee for a few years because I (mistakenly) thought it was bad for my health. Those years coincide with the period in which I did not write One. Single. Word. on my novel.

I've since read lots of articles about studies proving that coffee is mostly good for your health and can contribute to preventing some conditions and diseases.

All I know is that, without it, I don't write. So it's good for my creativity and sanity, if nothing else!

Vijaya said...

Love that story, Ev.

Vijaya said...

Mirka, love your picture in the coffee cup! When I was detoxing from all the migraine meds, I missed tea most of all. Then chocolate. My daughter is becoming a coffee addict working at Starbucks :) And as Barb says, there are many great attributes of coffee. In fact, just the smell of coffee can benefit!

Mirka Breen said...

Sorry you have to make do with just the smell, Vijaya <3

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

44 years ago I quite smoking, and believe me, it was a real addiction: I would even try to smoke when I had a cold! I've been so glad I quit. I do have sympathy for addicts and am just so glad I never got into anything besides cigarettes — including pain pills. I'm with you: Don't go there.

Kelly Hashway said...

I'm completely addicted to coffee and I think it's because I never smoked or used drugs. (I never even take medicine. Ask the nurses who argued with me after my c-section. I have a high pain tolerance and believe my body is totally capable of self-healing.) My dependency has always been on caffeine. When I was pregnant, I got migraines every day because my body was rebelling against the fact that I didn't drink caffeine. That was not a fun time.

Mirka Breen said...

Ouch, Kelly. I've heard about caffeine withdrawal headaches, but never had one. When I got off coffee/tea for a while, (done this four times, for different reasons) I just feel tired and schlumpy-lumpy for the first few days, and then fine. But coffee gives me a mental boost just like Barbara Etlin, above. It's fabulous for writing sessions :)

Janie Junebug said...

I'm addicted to diet soda. It can be Coke or Pepsi. I live with an aching back too and have refused to fall into pain pill addiction. I understand how it can happen to people, though, because it's tempting. Cigarettes are hard for me to understand, but I used to work with someone who lost her nursing license because of alcoholism. She quit drinking and got her license back, but she said she absolutely could not give up cigarettes--even when she was diagnosed with emphysema.


Anonymous said...

I can't think of any addictions for myself (can you believe I've never had a cup of coffee?)but I certainly have my habits and I do crave sugar and chips at times. Sadly, it seems people can become addicted quite easily. It's such a difficult world for so many.