Caffeine: daily addiction, nightly affliction

Dan Fishbein, Editorial Board

By now, the cashier at the CVS on Main Street knows exactly what I’m buying when I make my almost-daily pit stop there on the way to school in the morning.
“That’ll be $2.68,” the red-haired woman tells me, glancing at the Red Bull in my hand. At least, I think she has red hair; my eyes are still blurry with sleep as I reach groggily into my pocket to pull out some change, having only gotten six hours of sleep the night before.
Many view the contents of the shiny royal blue and silver metal can as a concoction of carcinogenic chemicals. However, I’m forced to go through a first period AP Bio test, Algonquin’s unforgiving social boxing ring, and extracurricular activities on no more sleep than what amounts to a glorified nap. I honestly don’t have much choice but to accept whatever future problems might arise from the only solution to my perpetual sleep deprivation.
As Alcoholics Anonymous will tell you, the first step to overcoming an addiction is admitting that you have one. Okay, I’m a caffeine addict. Hi, my name is Dan Fishbein, and I haven’t had caffeine in… about 45 minutes. Honestly, I can’t even begin to think about the recovery process yet. I am completely and utterly dependent on caffeine, my drug of choice.
I can’t get to the level of functionality needed for my daily processes without a hit of Vitamin R. It’s not that I particularly enjoy the taste. I could do without having to chug taurine, glucuronolactone, and niacinamide- the multisyllabic Red Bull ingredients that evoke images of my chemistry textbook rather than something I should put into my body. Rather, it’s the 160 milligrams of caffeine per 16 fluid ounces that keep me coming back for more. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, teenagers should have no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine per day.
School places me between a rock and a hard place of sleep deprivation and caffeine addiction. If I get up in the morning and don’t take a hit, my functionality is so impaired that I end up having to stay up late in order to finish everything that I need to get done. The next morning I’m even more tired, and still have to get to school by 7:20. Before long, the choice is quite simple: either drink caffeinated beverages or fall asleep in the middle of class. For someone academically inclined like myself, this choice is simple.
Caffeine presents a serious concern for addiction, and can have a glaringly negative health effects. However, as long as Algonquin remains sleep deprived, sometimes a flawed solution is the only solution.