One of my biggest demons is my addictive personality. I’ve struggled on many occasions with the temptation to splurge, to numb myself or in someway alter my brain’s chemistry through outside substances. Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, weed, these all have played a role in my life for many years.
My addictive personality first manifested through reading. A rather harmless addiction, as a child I would dive into books, so absorbed that I would regularly forget where I was and what time it was. I could so completely enter my chosen fictional world that in some cases, I have more vivid memories of stories than my actual life. Take Scotland. I’ve traveled to Scotland many times over the course of my life, and on one occasion I went while in the middle of a few Gaunt’s Ghosts novels. In that instance I was bustled here and there to catch a train or eat lunch, yet my memories of that journey lean heavily in favor of the books. Though I remember that black and green windbreaker I wore, and the restaurant I ate a baguette sandwich in, what I really remember is the Elder attacking and being defeated by Gaunt’s Ghosts.
Then I turned to video games, which really took me to another level. I could sit and play games for twelve hours a day, if I was allowed, which I rarely was. I was so engrossed that when I would get up to use the bathroom or get food or what have you, my muscles would be stiff and click from the sudden departure from stillness. My thumbs, however, were as loose as could be.
In late high school I found alcohol, something which was validated in college, and I discovered that I could easily chat and be social with just a few drinks. Being an excellent beer pong player, this addiction lasted for some time. But as I got older I began to notice that I would be tired after a night of drinking, and so I’ve cut back.
Smoking cigarettes, and other forms of tobacco and nicotine products, relaxed me. Being a very anxious person, and at times a highly emotional person, I used tobacco to calm down, to slow down and reflect. The height of my tobacco run also came during college, when I used it to wake up after a night of partying. I’ve quit four or five times, and have started smoking again, though I know I will quit again at some point.
Weed, though easily contained for most people, opened up a new world for me. Life became a video game, which isn’t healthy, and I soon found myself an excellent player of life’s many games. I was great for awhile, but my reliance on the drug for emotional wellbeing soon came back to bite me on the ass, and I became depressed. I stopped smoking for a couple of years, but I still deal with cotton mouth and paranoia as my social situation requires.
Caffeine is totally addictive. People don’t tend to include caffeine in their conception of drugs, but it is. My dad used to have a serious caffeine addiction, and would get headaches if he didn’t have at least one Coke in a day. Now he drinks a lot of caffeine free Pepsi, and sometimes a diluted caffeinated Pepsi. I still take half a caffeine pill every morning to help get me out of bed, but I used to be in the habit of taking up to 2,000mg of caffeine in a single day. Sometimes more. Though this helped, I found that I would become irritable and sleepy if I went too long without more, so I cut back.
My addictive personality has been a factor in my life since I was eight. It always comes back, no matter how much I do to control it and quell it. To cope with this, I try to latch on to healthier addictions. Exercise. The Daily Show. Creativity. They work much better and have few side effects.