Friday, January 9, 2015

Caffeine, Cigarettes, and Cocaine

Whenever I drive my teenage son to school I make a stop at my favorite fast food establishment. I make my way to the drive thru and order the same thing every time; a large caramel frappe, no whipped cream, extra drizzle. It contains one of my drugs of choice: caffeine. It supplies me with the energy I need in the morning. I can slurp one down in less than five minutes. Yum!

In all honesty, I do not drink just one during the day. I have one in the morning, another in the afternoon and one more at night. Whenever I go to McDonalds, they know who I am. I get extra special service. All I have to do is walk in and they start making one as soon as they notice me. Often, I will buy two a few hours apart during the same shift. I do not know how many times I have heard the comment, "You again? You were just in here not that long ago!" 

More than once, my doctor has told me to limit my caffeine intake. I do not listen. Throughout the day, I need a pick me up and the magical liquid is just what I need to keep me going. It has been recommended that I discontinue consuming caffeinated beverages at 4 P.M. in the afternoon so that it will clear my system so I can fall asleep at a decent time at night. Decreasing my habit will also help with my anxiety levels. I have not admitted to my doctor that I drink my last frappe of the night between the times of 8 P.M. and 11 P.M. I am a rebel. What is he going to do? Bend me over his knee and spank me?

Regular sleep schedules are important for someone with bipolar disorder. Caffeine can affect mood by causing high levels of energy. It can affect one's sleep schedule which can cause insomnia if used close to bedtime. If someone does not get enough sleep it can throw them into a manic phase, especially if this occurs for an extended period of time.

The addiction that I find most difficult to discontinue is smoking. I am a pack a day smoker. I have have been smoking since I was 14 years old. I have tried to quit many times. Sometimes I am successful but I resume smoking several months later.

It has been suggested that individuals with mood disorders use nicotine to regulate their moods. It affects dopamine levels that interacts with the pleasure centers within the brain. Quitting smoking can lead to depression. Sometimes antidepressants are used to to make quitting smoking easier. The use of antidepressants should be carefully monitored by a doctor because it can cause a major manic episode in someone with bipolar disorder.

According to what I have heard, cocaine is the drug of choice for people with bipolar disorder. Mania has been compared to a cocaine high. I can neither confirm or deny this fact because I have never used it, although I am curious. It is an expensive habit and I cannot afford it. Besides, the last thing I need is another addiction.

photo credit: <a href="">Stephen Burch</a> via <a href="">photopin</a> <a href="">cc</a>

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