Aug
24
2010

Caffeine Addiction – Not So Innocent

Upon arriving home from my trips to the USA and then to Tasmania, my body was in need some serious TLC after 5 weeks of eating poorly and not undertaking regular exercise. I set about creating a bit of a diet/exercise plan and one thing I wanted to do was drink only water for a month. Well as of a few days ago, I completed that goal. It was far from easy, the first couple of weeks I battled through caffeine withdrawal and I’m still feeling the ill-effects now.

I’ve never been a coffee drinker, my daily caffeine use was generally a can of Coke Zero every time I played a poker session (usually two a day) and the occasional green tea and a bit of chocolate through the week. It’s amazing how you can innocently be consuming these products without ever realising your dependence on them until you stop.

For the first couple of weeks in particular I was popping paracetamol regularly to numb the pain of throbbing headaches. I played some truly awful poker as my concentration and focus became easily waivered and no-existent at times. I found myself in a really grouchy mood a lot of the time and really easily irritated. I think the scariest symptom I actually suffered was some mild depression, I just found myself feeling sad for no apparent reason and really unmotivated to do things.

As I started researching all the withdrawal symptoms to make sure I wasn’t completely losing my mind, I came across something pretty interesting. I read that there is a direct link between caffeine use and grinding your teeth, which is something I do a lot (I have to wear a mouthguard every night). It makes total sense though, my caffeine dependence started in my late teens, exactly the time that my grinding first started. I’m really interested to see if it subsides now that I’ve cut back my use.

I’m still not feeling completely myself a month after giving up caffeine cold turkey. My energy levels aren’t what they once were, I’m still a bit moody, my concentration through poker sessions isn’t as sharp and I still get a bit of blurred vision. Now that I’ve come this far though, I’m determined to keep going and try and severely limit my use of caffeine in the future. I’m definitely giving up soft drink for good! In terms of my poker playing, I’m hoping my stamina returns, but if it doesn’t no big deal, I’ll adapt.

My whole experience got my curious though about the use of drugs by poker players. I’m sure the majority of players use caffeine on a regular basis, but doing some reading I found out that there are people using drugs like Ritalin and Adderall. After some research, I came to the conclusion that any of the benefits of using more serious drugs to assist your poker playing would be far outweighed by the side effects and consequences.

Anyway, that’s my story, hope someone found it interesting. I thought it was something neat to write about because caffeine consumption really is very socially acceptable and seemingly innocent. With the hardest part of giving up behind me though, I can definitely assure you that it is at least a little bit painful to try and kick your habit, even when you don’t consume extreme quantities of it on a regular basis.

About the Author: Andrew Ferguson

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