Dig Baton Rouge

East of the River

By Katie East

It’s hard for addicts to admit they have a substance abuse problem. It’s even harder to admit it when it’s something as mundane as a coffee or sugar craving. Despite our best efforts, we all have some sort of habit we can’t kick. Chemical dependency is so commonplace in this country it’s odd if you get by your day to day without some sort of kick.

Some brand of dependencies carry more stigmas than others. Cocaine and heroin, for instance, are both illegal and users are shunned for giving into their addictive nature. Marijuana is interesting because it doesn’t create dependency in its users. Potheads aren’t addicted to pot they’re just addicted to being high. They like the way it makes them feel and find it hard to function without it. Though I will say “function” is a strong word to describe most potheads I know.

Other addictions, like nicotine, have only a mildly negative association. Sure, smoking is becoming less and less accepted but people don’t look down on smokers for being weak-willed and giving into their cravings. Though the people in my family, who are the avid anti-smoking, allergic types, consider a smoker to be as bad as a felon. In general though, smokers aren’t treated the way drug addicts or even alcoholics are by others.

Alcoholism is one of the oddest diseases because despite contrary medical proof, most people don’t really believe it’s really a disease. Though drinking everyday is widely accepted having to drink everyday is not, especially when it’s more than just a couple beers or glasses of wine. The majority of people can “handle their liquor” so they don’t usually have much sympathy, or empathy, for those who can’t. A disease? More like a case of man up ya bitch!

Of all of the addicts out there the caffeine addict is by far the most arrogant. Don’t think caffeine’s not a drug? Well, then you’re probably an offender. How many people do you know that simply cannot get out of bed or go to work in the morning without at least a cup, or sometimes a pot, of coffee? It’s customary. And just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s any less addictive or dangerous.

“I’m not me until I’ve had my coffee,” people say. Ok crackhead. You are clearly chemically dependent. You have a headache and are irritable when you can’t get your fix? You’re an addict.

When I think about the amount of caffeine kids have access to it scares me. I used to drink probably five Cokes a day. If I did that today I think I might have a mental breakdown. At 30, I still don’t think I’m mature enough to possess caffeine yet I still keep trying to make it work for me. On several occasions recently I have made myself sick from consuming too much.

Recently, I drank three iced teas at lunch. I got sleepy on the drive to New Orleans and got a Starbucks DoubleShot Espresso drink at a gas station. My sister told me they are a nice jolt and taste good without being overly sweet.

I drank one and went on with getting ready for my stand-up show. Within in an hour I started to feel weird. Colors looked different and my stomach started cramping. After some intense diarrhea (sorry) I got enough strength to drive again when all of a sudden my vision really started to get wonky. Lights were moving around and I had to be extremely careful on the road.

At the venue I started to go over my set list and the words started to move around on the page. Seriously. I thought that only happened in movies when someone just found out they accidentally ate LSD. I did the show, basically blind, and just hoped people didn’t notice how hopped up I was. Heaven forbid someone think I was on some actual drug instead of just boring old caffeine.

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