Do you like coffee?  Or do you LOVE it?  I still remember my first cup of coffee.  I was still a kid, and used way too much cream and sugar.  I still love coffee, although with no sugar added, and a just a bit of non-pasteurized, organic cream. 

IS IT A DRUG OR JUST A NORMAL PART OF LIFE? 

In the Blue Zones, coffee is a part of daily life

There are health benefits to drinking coffee, but isn’t it also a drug?  I think anything we take into our bodies that are not just to feed our cells, but that help adjust our chemistry, we could view as a drug. 

And let’s be clear, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  I think sometimes to get through the day with our sanity intact, drugs can be very helpful!  A relatively mentally-stable adult can weigh out the decision between how a drug benefits them vs causes negative side-effects.  The problems happen when we get into robot-mode and do the same things every day, disregarding how they’re making us feel. 

Is your cup of joe revving you up toward a productive day or is it giving you the jitters and your hands are shaking so you can’t even type straight?  Is your nighttime glass of wine or beer relaxing you or is it making you bloated?  The bowl of reefer – opening up your creativity or causing disillusion and lack of focus? 

And what about sugar?  I think that’s one of the worst drugs to get hooked on because most people don’t see it as a drug.  We don’t need sugar in its straight form to get through the day.  We take it to adjust our body chemistry to give us quick energy.   Most people addicted to sugar don’t even realize how addicted they are to it and why they’re using it.  To get off of it, they have to retrain their bodies to get energy in a different way.   

Coffee is not for everyone.  Even DNA testing has shown that coffee affects different people different ways

After having kids of my own, I went from having an occasional cup for fun to feeling like I needed it every day.  Sometimes multiple times a day.  A few signs – like my throat gets a little sore or getting car sick when I have too much coffee – were concerning.  I would cut back to the one cup a day and feel better.  

But the cup I had been using – it’s not small.  It’s not huge either, but if you compare my cup to the teacups I inherited from my great-grandmother: 

Recently, I thought that my coffee habit was causing some other problems.  For a while I’ve known that if I have too much coffee, I get very dizzy, like severe car-sickness dizzy.  The other day, this was bothering me because it was interfering with my dance class (we were doing a lot of spins), and I had only had one cup. 

So I made the decision to go off coffee. 

The first morning, I got out of bed and my first thought was, “coffee time!”  Then a realization.  “No.  No coffee time.” 

I felt depressed.  Not like slit my wrists depressed, but I was really sad.  This sadness and lack of focus lasted most of the morning.  I went to work that day and I felt very guilty like I wasn’t 100% present.

The second morning wasn’t as bad. I had a good, regular day. I felt fine.

By the fourth day, I thought, “You know, a little, teeny, tiny cup would be fun, maybe.” 

If you’re thinking, “God, she sounds like an addict,” you’re not alone.  I know I’m an addict! I just love coffee.

However, I could only tolerate a few sips.  The day after that, I had a full cup.  Dude.  I was so anxious.  Jittery.  To be honest, I don’t typically feel jittery after coffee, but this time I did.  I think I became more sensitive to it. 

Now I have a smaller version of my daily cup, coming in at 8 oz. I don’t feel deprived. I enjoy the taste of coffee and the ritual of having it in the morning, and I don’t feel jittery. I’m extra-productive in the mornings, and the dizziness has not been as big of an issue. I’m still not ready to have just the 4 oz cup, but it’s probably all in my mind!

Effects of drugs on spiders’ web building from a 1948 Swiss study (Peter Witt)

Everyone has a drug of choice, or several, and if you don’t believe me, open your medicine cabinet, your pantry, or refrigerator and tell me what’s there.  With the exception of some monks and recluses, we all use these commonly found body-chemistry adjusters. 

The only way to tell how it’s affecting you is to take some time away from it.  You may feel that’s impossible to do.  Work through the emotional part because that’s the hardest.  Take time to sit with how it’s changing your mind and body.  What do you feel? 

Think of it like an experiment, not as a punishment.  Be curious and see if your need for the drug changes as time goes on. 

In the comments below, let me know if you’ve ever felt the need to give something up that wasn’t benefiting you and how it went.