Day 5: I am Thankful for Legal Drugs

As the daughter of pharmacists, I have always depended to a certain extent on medication to make me feel better. “Better living through chemistry!” I’ll happily declare, popping an OTC pill. If I have a headache, I take Tylenol. Muscle aches or menstrual cramps get ibuprofen. Cough medications and decongestants are fine to use.

And antibiotics are miracle drugs as far as I’m concerned. Having survived any number of ear infections and strep throat infections with my children, I have no problem with a pediatrician delivering the news that the source of my child’s misery or fever is an infection. Bring on the pink stuff! Within twenty-four hours, they will be feeling better, and I will be sleeping at night again.

Also, let’s be frank: I am fairly dependent on a number of mildly addictive substances.

I had an 8:30 a.m. meeting this morning (my own doing, no less), and as a result of yet another hellacious morning at home, I ran out of the house without my coffee. Ten minutes into the 8:30 meeting, my brain was clamoring for its wake-up brew. So the next 40 minutes were torture.

I need coffee, people. Or, more correctly, I need caffeine, and coffee is my chosen delivery method. It’s a bonus that I like the taste of coffee — a good, strong brew, with cream, no sugar. Each morning, I usually have a cup of French press coffee, and a cup of VIA. On weekends, I drink the entire French press (about three cups).

On the flip side, after my two or three morning cups, I go caffeine-free the rest of the day. If I drink anything with caffeine after noon, it affects my ability to go to sleep. And I have enough problems in that area.

Chocolate is another substance I need, although only occasionally. It’s a definite mood-booster for me. I gave it up one Lent, and realized that I take it for granted. Unlike coffee — or alcohol, which I will talk about in a second here — I don’t need chocolate daily. However, if I didn’t have chocolate for the occasional stress-reliever, mood-elevator, I’d probably have to go on a mild anti-depressant. Sometimes you need a kick in the seat — or, in this case, the pleasure center of the brain, to keep you moving along.

Another legal drug that I am dependent on is alcohol.

Yeah, I said it. The reason I’m not afraid to say that I’m dependent on my daily drink — usually a beer, sometimes a glass of wine — is because I know I’m not an alcoholic. I’ve wondered about that from time to time. I check in with myself.

I don’t consider myself an alcoholic — or even someone who abuses alcohol — because I don’t engage in a destructive pattern of alcohol use that includes any of the following:

• Tolerance to or withdrawal from the substance
• Using more alcohol or using it for longer than planned
• Spending an inordinate amount of time using it, or recovering from the use of alcohol
• Compromised functioning
• Continuing to use alcohol despite an awareness of the detrimental effects it is having on one’s life

I have a drink every day. Usually after the kids have gone to bed, and I’m reading my book. Some evenings (usually on a weekend), I have two.

And then I stop. And then, I don’t want another.

I will admit though, I do look forward to that drink. I don’t drink to get drunk. But I do drink.

Got a legal drug you like — or need (I’m thinking daily medication here)? Tell me about it in the comments!