It’s been 7 full days now since I last had caffeine. I know the addiction is almost vanquished because I felt its greedy fingers scrabbling desperately for a foothold this afternoon. All I could think about was how much I wanted coffee. Finally, I actually went into Starbucks, intent upon just getting a cup of decaf—but in a moment of inspiration instead grabbed something called Green Machine by Naked Juice. Sure, it was enough (naturally occurring) sugar to make my teeth ache (56 grams, BITCHES), but it wasn’t going to keep me awake tonight (as even decaf would). Please express your admiration for my strength in the face of adversity via cash or money order.
Anyway, for your edification and my morale, here are 8 reasons to break the hold of the dark mistress on your battle-worn pysche, whether in the form of coffee, dark chocolate, diet Coke, or those delightful packets of Gu.
1. Caffeine is addictive. Who wants to live as an addict? Sure, Jonny Lee Miller was mighty cute in Trainspotting, but DAYUM have you seen him in Sherlock, as the addict now in recovery?
2. Caffeine keeps you from making your own happiness. “5-HIA, an organic acid and component of the neurotransmitter serotonin (the happy chemical) seen in the urine tends to be elevated in coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower levels of serotonin synthesis in the brain.” As someone with naturally low serotonin levels, I can assure you this effect is most undesirable.
3. Another unhappy chemistry fact: caffeine increases the presence of stress hormones, the mellifluously named catecholamines. Are you pro-stress? I didn’t think so.
4. Also, the stress response results in inflammation. NOT THE GOOD KIND. The systemic kind that makes you achy and aggravates chronic conditions.
5. A known appetite suppressant, caffeine can cause bingeing on chocolate as its levels in your system drop throughout the day and your system insists on reinstating those levels via dark chocolate. It’s not something scientists talk about, but it’s totally a thing.
6. If you’ve been addicted to caffeine a long time, been relying on it to power your mind and inspire your day, you might not know what you are capable of under your own steam. Seize the opportunity to self-actualize!
7. Caffeine suppresses immunity—even diplomatic immunity! Don’t think you can park in the tow-away zone with your embassy plates if you have coffee in the cupholder. Well, I don’t have proof of that, but there’s this: “In all, more than 150 hormones are produced by the adrenals or metabolized from adrenal hormones. One group, known as glucocorticoids (including cortisol), act as a brake on the immune system…Scientists have recently learned that excess glucocorticoid production (caused by stress and caffeine) can profoundly suppress immunity.”
8. Do you know why caffeine withdrawal causes headaches? Because of all the blood returning to your brain, more quickly than your brain would like. Caffeine is a vasoconstrictor, meaning it constricts your veins, decreasing blood flow to the brain and such. Doesn’t your brain need all the blood it can get? Blood has so many great things in it, such as oxygen. All the brains I know are pro-oxygen. Breathe some in today, and take some extra gulps if you had coffee, people.