Addictive Behaviors

Drinking coffee has become such a normalized thing in society. Some people can’t start their day without it. Friends gather at a cafe to drink a cup of joe and catch up with each other’s lives. When did this beverage become such a staple in our lives? Coffee contains caffeine (even decaf products contain trace amounts of caffeine) which is a stimulant. Your body actually becomes addicted to the substance and dependent on it to function correctly. I’m not judging; for years I consumed the drug (yes, you read that right, caffeine is considered a drug).

When I was younger, I used fat burning pills that were practically just capsules of caffeine. I would have tremors, hypoglycemia, nausea, and irritability, but I stupidly thought that a faster metabolism was more important. News flash, it crashed my metabolism in the long term – I feel like after I stopped taking them, I gained whatever weight I lost plus some.

When I switched from a second shift job to a first shift position, I started drinking coffee. This also caused issues with tremors and nausea. I would only drink one cup per day, but it still affected my body. When I first started my blog, I wrote about the episode of chest pain that I experienced. After that day, I was terrified to drink coffee and decided that it was time to quit. Boy-oh-boy, I did not realize how accustomed to caffeine my body had become. Once I stopped indulging, I started having horrible headaches. My head would be pounding all day and I felt incredibly grumpy. My body was detoxing from the caffeine and I went through withdrawals. My body is very sensitive (hence all of the medication allergies and the affects of caffeine), so I should really be cautious with what I put in my body.

When I stopped drinking coffee, I also limited my alcohol consumption drastically. I have never been a big drinker, but we would go out from time-to-time to a bar and indulge in a couple drinks. In the last two months I have only drank twice. I honestly shouldn’t be drink at all. I am happy to say that I haven’t even wanted to drink alcohol recently.

Addiction is an issue that many people in my family have struggled with, so I should be especially aware. Growing up, my father had an issue with drinking alcohol. It was a big strain on my parents’ marriage. Shortly after they separated, my mom met her now-husband who also had an issue with alcohol consumption. Both of my grandfathers had the same issue. So does one of my great-uncles. Let’s just say that I have a lot of not-so-great childhood memories that were due to alcoholism. I don’t think that addiction is specifically hereditary, but I do think that having addicts as closely related family members can increase someone’s likelihood of becoming an addict themselves.

Additionally, I think that some people are more susceptible to addictive behaviors. I guess you can say that I believe some people have “addictive personalities” and I’m one of them. I become obsessed with things easily. Whether it’s photography, crocheting, nicotine, coffee, sugar, food, running…I get hooked. I am an all-or-nothing kind of person and I realize that it’s something I will fight against my whole life. When I started photography, I devoted every free moment of my time to photo sessions, editing, and research. Exercise has been an addiction of mine on and off for years. I will go from not exercising at all to exercising every day. For a while, I was running three or more miles per day plus weight training several  days a week. The same thing happened when it came to eating – whether it was excessive food consumption or minimal food consumption (let’s save that for another post).

This year I have focused a lot of energy toward maintaining balance in my life. No more caffeine and no more nicotine. I have been enjoying the things that I love (food, photography, crocheting, writing, and reading) in moderation and without becoming obsessed.

Are you someone who struggles with obsessive and addictive behaviors? Balance is key to a happy and healthy lifestyle. You aren’t alone and you can do this. Take every day in stride and don’t be too hard on yourself when you have setbacks. Nobody is perfect and progress is all that matters.

Every day is a new opportunity to live a better life.

Love Always,

Elizabeth

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