Jan 152014

death before decaffI was sick last week, which sucked. It was extra sucky because I’m an accountant and last week was right in the middle of the Quarter-End crunch (which was also the Year-End crunch!). I had to go in to work anyway and get my shit done. Fortunately I had drugs to reply on to mask the symptoms. And I gotta say, as crappy as it feels, there’s also something exhilarating about knowing that you are using drugs to burn up your reserves, to push beyond what you should be capable of doing. It’s stupid, but it feels sorta heroic to burn up your body in the push to reach urgent goals. You get this primal sense of righteousness, that you are doing a Good Thing by sacrificing your well-being for the survival of your tribe. Even if it’s just accounting.

And of course the best part is that it was possible to get that feeling without actually doing any long-term damage to myself. Human psyches are surprisingly easy to fool.

It did remind me that I should be grateful that we have drugs. Drugs are wonderful tools. And like all tools, they should be kept in good condition if you want them to work when you need them. I almost never take OTC medicines for minor pains, which means that when I need them I can take a single Tylenol (or two if it’s really bad) and get good results. I am grateful that I’m lucky enough not to have a chronic condition which requires painkillers just to function. But I’m amazed by how quickly people dull their tools for no good reason.

Take caffeine. Or rather – don’t take caffeine. It’s kinda a pain to avoid, since it’s laced in common American beverages, but there are a number of options when you eat out that don’t include caffeine. It’s worth the effort, because now when I need to wake up, or I need to focus, one cup (or less) of coffee will work for hours. It is an AMAZING drug, and I’m dismayed that so many people have completely destroyed their ability to use it.

Not only that, many people have become caffeine addicts, and require a steady stream of it simply to feel normal. I used to be that way too, and it sucks. Chaining your biology to a stimulant is a terrible idea. You can tell people are addicts when they start joking about their addiction, like in the image posted at the top. Makes me sad whenever I see those sorts of jokes. I used to make them too, both about caffeine and about alcohol. (One of my favorites being “Let’s go drink until we can’t feel feelings anymore!” Because of the lulz, I guess.)

Drugs aren’t bad. Drugs are tools. Use them appropriately and they’ll treat you well. But always be aware that overuse destroys the tools, and can make your reliant upon them.

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