And I’m an addict.
My primary addiction is caffeine. (Don’t roll your eyes, there’s more.) The vast majority of the population is addicted to caffeine and don’t even know it. It just takes a cup of decaf two or three days in a row to become chemically addicted enough to feel withdrawal symptoms when you go without.
And make no mistake, caffeine withdrawal is very real. I’ve been going through it recently. The headaches that start at the back of your eyes and work its way around your head to the point where it feels like you’re bleeding internally. The constant state of tiredness coupled with insomnia, and I’m one of the lucky ones whose symptoms stop there.
Caffeine’s not really what I’m addicted to. Chemically, sure, but my real addiction is to anything that allows me to escape from real life. Video games, movies, television, card games, etc.
I’m not using the term addiction lightly like most people. I mean full-fledge, should be seeking help, addiction. For those who don’t know, true addiction requires the presence of adverse consequences. Like spending your last few dollars on a soda just to make the withdrawal symptoms go away, or binge watching a television series when your rent is due in a couple days and you have no way to pay it.
People throw around the term all the time without really understanding how not addicted they are.
What about the hard stuff? The drugs people associate with addiction? While I’ve certainly done my fair share of them, ironically I’ve never been really addicted to drugs. I did cocaine once and that was enough. I used to be a huge pothead but the aftermath of weed turns me off to it now – the lingering scent of lethargy and worthlessness. I used to drink, but I hate myself when I’m drunk and hate it even more when I blackout, so I cut alcohol out of my life, and I hallucinated once from sleep deprivation and vowed never to do so again.
All this being said, I have been able to quit my addictions at a moment’s notice. Months, sometimes years, will go by without me indulging. But then that oh-so familiar itch will come back and I’ll think “I can handle it now.” And I can, until things start going poorly in my life again. That’s when I retreat to safety and let the world explode around me as I hum along with headphones blocking it all out.
No matter how far up the Everest of success I get, the world always explodes at some point. And each time, one addiction or another is there with me below rock bottom, being just as soothing as it is destructive.
Hi, my name is Locke and I’m an addict, but I’d rather live with the demons I know than leave a vacancy for new ones to grow.