Tuesday, March 26, 2013

How to Know If You Have an Addiction

I woke up this morning in kind of a panic, but I really couldn't pinpoint where the anxiety came from. I've had panic attacks before (I can count the instances on one hand), but they were all caused by underlying stress that I'd been pushing onto the back burner. So I sat down, grabbed a Dr. Thunder, and tried thinking about what stresses could be causing this minor panic attack.

To my horror, I felt the most overwhelming wave of relief come over me when I took my first swig of Dr. Thunder. For those of you not in the know, Dr. Thunder is Wal-mart's ripoff of Dr. Pepper, and - I hate to actually admit this - but I prefer it over the "real" thing*. I eyed the can suspiciously and then quickly ran over to our recycling bin. Good GOD, over half of the recycling was used soda cans. And those cans were only one or two days old.

"I may have a problem," I told Three when he came downstairs to see why I was making gasping noises.

"I didn't want to say anything," he said, almost with a hint of guilt.

Now, Three does most of the grocery shopping, not because I don't want to do it but because, well, he likes doing it. And because he usually has the car due to him having an out-of-home job.** So he's the one who was buying me all these cartons of Dr. Thunder. Once, he even brought home a 24-pack, and I remember thinking to myself, "OMG IT'S THE HOLY FUCKING GRAIL." That really should have been a heads-up, but oh, well. Oblivious might as well be my middle name.

There's a reason I don't gamble or do drugs, and it doesn't have anything to do with morality, although I'd like to say that it does. This current (and recent) affliction just proves my point: I have an addictive personality. My aversion to most vices is more akin to self-preservation than anything else. Take poker. I love poker. And I'm actually pretty good at it. But I won't go into casinos. I've seen what people like me do: go into several bankruptcies and eventually get killed by loan sharks. I've been through one bankruptcy, thank you very much, and have no desire to do so again. I have no idea about loan sharks, though, unless you count, like, my exposure to movies and TV. I also don't buy lottery tickets. A friend of mine, who has a similar problem with addictions, spent over $300 in one day on lottery tickets, and when he tried to get me to buy one, I had to run out of the room. I wanted to buy one. I really did. Just to test my luck! But I did not have the money or the will not to spend what little money I had. So running was really my only option.

This translates into my life other ways, too. When I was in college, I was what you may call a professional smoker. I didn't even care that my clothes all smelled like an ashtray or that I constantly had the sniffles. Nicotine is awesome. Honestly, if cigarettes didn't lead to cancer and death and shit, I'd probably still be smoking. I occasionally slide back into the habit - usually when I'm severely stressed - but for the most part, I just crave them when I see somebody smoking, be it on the TV or walking down the sidewalk. It's a monumentous task when I have quit in the past, enough to where Three has specifically asked me to never smoke again so he won't have to deal with my mood swings when I decide to quit. And he never asks me to do anything, really.

It hasn't gotten to the point of erratic behavior with the Dr. Thunder, but if I go without one for a day, I get a splitting headache, damn near a migraine. It's horrible. At first, I thought it was dust or mold or something allergy related, but when I tested my theory, a day after realizing that I had indeed downed nearly an entire 12-pack of Dr. Thunder in less than eight hours, my fear was realized. It's like when I figured out that I was allergic to latex, gluten, and lactose; I just kind of crumbled.

So I'm in this conundrum now. I don't really want to quit drinking Dr. Thunder or any of its alternatives, but it is pretty much all empty calories. And caffeine is just a stimulant. I lived most of my life without it, so I'm sure I can do that again? But then I teeter back to "but I don't want to." Ugh, caffeine addiction can't be any harder to kick than nicotine, right? RIGHT?? I honestly don't know. I'd go look it up on WebMD but I don't want to worry that I have H1N1 after reading a few pages.

Sigh. It's like Sophie's choice all over again.

* This kind of creeps me out for some reason, but Dr. Pepper has a sort of floral taste to it now that I never noticed before.
** Also I'm not allowed to go alone because I'll come back with a bunch of food that we didn't need plus all sorts of teas.
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