Posts Tagged "addiction"


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I have an addiction. No, it’s not to drugs illegal or prescribed. No, I’m not drowning my sorrows in tequila shots. There’s no gambling problem, nor am I shop-a-holic. I don’t hoard, though with three dogs and a cat I might be toeing the line on that one. Even though I have a serious love affair with coconut covered doughnuts (Hostess all the way, baby), my weight falls in the normal range. I would like to be able to say I’m addicted to running and yoga and strength training, but my running times, tight hip flexors, and pitiful biceps beg to differ. My addiction is to Coke Zero.

I adore Coke Zero. Coca-Cola, ever the masterful marketers, ad campaign “Happiness” sums it up for me. Nothing makes me happier then a 20 ounce bottle of Coke Zero. If I can find one with the tiniest bit of ice shavings on top, it’s all the better. I actually know the specific coolers in various stores that yield this little godsend. One of my favorite sounds in the world, ranked just after my children’s laughter and my husband’s voice, is the sound of the lid being twisted off one of those 20 ounce beauties. I love the burning sensation you get when you take that first sip. Crushed ice covered with Coke Zero is just like no other in my world. I’ve actually driven miles out of my way to go to the restaurant that carries both.

I have quit the Zero on many occasions. I was Coke Zero free for four months in 2011 and for six months in 2010. But when push comes to shove, I give up. I say I’ll have just one, but within days I’m right back to my 32 ounce plus a day habit. Here’s the deal, drinking Coke Zero, relaxes me. It’s a break, a respite from the day, a touchstone. Everything else in my world may change, but Coke Zero is always the same. I drink it when I’m thirsty and bored and tired and stressed . Then there are the triggers, certain foods and situations where I just crave it.

So, let’s break it down.

First, my habit is an expense. At the least, I buy one 32 ounce cup from QuickTrip (my favorite dealer) a day. That runs me $373.80 per year. Add to that Coke Zero from restaurants, the occasional twelve pack, a few 20 ouncers every week and I’m easily looking at a $1,000.00 per year habit. Not chump change in my universe. I spend less money annually on my clothes. Then there’s the time involved in acquisition. I will get in my car and make a special trip to the store just to get one. This is easily twenty minutes of my time a day or 118 hours a year or 4.9 total days a year. Time I will never get back.

While the Coca-Cola Corporation might beg to differ and as a daughter of the South I feel like a bit of a traitor even uttering these words (after all, Coke is in our blood), there is a lot of evidence that diet soft drinks, especially ones with aspartame, aren’t good for you. My health conscious friends regularly forward articles telling me all the reasons why I need to stop. Just this week Karen sent me a chart discussing how aspartame alters your body chemistry to make it a good breeding ground for cancer (yikes!), and Linda pointed out that she’s had an easier time maintaining her weight since she stopped drinking diet beverages.

Finally, there is my son who has asks me to stop regularly. I can see the concern in his eyes and hear the irritation in his voice. This should be enough. He should be enough.

But I keep on drinking it. In spite of the cost, the mounting evidence that it’s not good for me, and the pleas of my child, I keep picking up the bottle and chugging it down. I tell myself that it’s no biggie. I make deals. I make excuses. After all you can’t really be addicted to Coke Zero, can you? Over the past several months, I’ve been turning this situation over in my mind. After much contemplation, the question I have to ask myself is this: “Why do I continue to do a thing that I clearly know is not good for me?”

Last night, I sat waiting for my daughter (the ongoing saga of my life). I finished off the large cup of water I had with me. It was late. I was tired. The book I was reading had lost my interest. Spotting a Kroger, I knew what was in the cooler at check out lane 6. A frosty 20 ouncer was calling my name. I wasn’t thirsty and I didn’t need the caffeine at such a late hour. I thought about the money I could spend more meaningfully. I thought about cancer. I thought about my son. Then, I went into the store and bought the Coke Zero. I unscrewed the cap and shuddered as the first swig burned my nose. According to Webster, this is addiction.

So, I quit. I’m done. It will not be easy. I will drink more water. I will break out the herbal teas I love. I will avoid trigger foods and situations. I will add an afternoon cup of coffee. The solution is simple.

The other thing I’m going to do is to keep asking myself the question, “Why do I continue to do a thing that I clearly know is not good for me?” This answer is the key.

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