Thursday, September 16, 2010

Driving that train, high on caffeine.....

So what’s the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning?  My back hurts...wish I had slept better...wish I hadn’t drank so much last night...shit...I’m already running late...I NEED SOME COFFEE!  Sound familiar?  (BTW, I don’t think this way but most people I know do...I just jump up and get on my bike for a predawn 25 miler.  However while riding I usually am hearing the lyrics from a Clapton song...”If your thing is gone and you wanna ride on....caffeine”)

We drink coffee habitually to wake attack the day.  We also drink it because of our addiction to it.  Yep..there’s a reason you wake up thinking about a cup of black coffee from Starbucks...and it’s the driver of the economic engine that has made that company wildly successful.  It’s the same force that has toppled banana republics and is killing Mexican tourism...addiction to a drug...and the business of supplying that drug.

Yes, coffee is legal.  So is Jim Beam and Oxycodone (by prescription).  The active ingredient in coffee, caffeine,  is not only addictive...its dirt cheap to produce.  So cheap, that if you can create a product that successfully hooks people you can get rich quick.  

Its sort of like the potato chip business...if you can get your brand in the store and have reasonable success, you will be garnering around $3.99 for .08 cents of potatoes, oil and salt.

I mean these caffeine dealers are smart...and their product is available at every corner.  And the branding is straight from Madison Avenue.  A partial list includes: Kronik, Jolt Energy, Hype, Howling Monkey, Hydrive, Kaboom Infinite Energy, (Infinite?) Monster Nitrous (also used in drag racing machines), NeuroGasm, (over-rated), OnGo Energy Shot, Rage and Rage Inferno (one cold, one hot), Roaring Lion, RockStar Juiced (If you wanna hang out you’ve got to take her out....caffeine), Speed Stack Pumped N.O., Vault, Who’s Your Daddy and finally Whoop Ass. 

The complete list is at “” sort of the Physicians Desk Reference of caffeine addiction.

All the big brands are listed there as well including Coke, Pepsi, Sun Drop, Mountain Dew, Starbucks, McDonalds, Venom Death Adder, Zombie Blood Energy Potion, Diet Dr. Pepper and Cougar Energy Double Shot.  This last one is named after it’s target market, who drinks it with high end vodka in an attempt to match the energy level of testosterone fueled 20 year old males and to ease the pain of Botox injections.

She don’t lie, she don’t like, she don’t lie; caffeine!

Just so you’ll know...but you won’t care, here is the science of caffeine addiction. Caffeine is an adenosine antagonist. This means it prevents adenosine from doing its job. Your brain is filled with keys which fit specific keyholes. Adenosine is one of those keys, but caffeine can fit in the same keyhole.  This is how cocaine and nicotine addiction works as well.

When caffeine gets in there, it keeps adenosine from getting in.
Adenosine does a lot of stuff all throughout your body, but the most noticeable job it has is to suppress your nervous system. With caffeine stuck in the keyhole, adenosine can’t calm you down. It can’t make you drowsy. It can’t get you to shut up.

That crazy wired feeling you get when you drink a lot of coffee is what it feels like when your brain can’t its natural dose of adenosine.  When this happens, your brain starts to rewire itself.

Your smart-ass brain creates a ton of new receptor sites. The plan is to have more keyholes than false keys. The result is you become very sensitive to adenosine, and without coffee you get overwhelmed by its effects.

After eight hours of sleep, you wake up with a head swimming with adenosine. You feel like shit until you get that black gold in you to clean out those receptor sites. That perk you feel isn’t adding anything substantial to you – it’s bringing you back to just above zero.

In addition, coffee stimulates your adrenal glands, which makes you feel like you could take a bullet and eat glass. When the adrenaline runs dry, you feel like you’ve been running a marathon, which leads you to look for more coffee to get those glands pumping again.

After a few rides on the adrenal roller-coaster, you crash.
You might think all of this probably takes a while, but it takes about seven days to become addicted to caffeine.
Once addicted, you need more and more coffee to get buzzed as your brain gets covered in receptor sites. Neurologists report seeing patients regularly who drink two or three pots of coffee in one sitting before starting their day.
Coffee also releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in the brain which is released when you have an orgasm, win the lottery and shoot heroin.

So next time you are sucking down a tall Starbucks and huffing on a Marlboro Light, perhaps you will feel more compassion for the homeless guy down the street whose hooked on crack.  You have much more in common with him than you ever thought.  At least your brain does.  

What’s really stunning is the profit margin in all those caffeinated drinks...and our willingness to pay the price every, every day.  Well, my adenosine receptors are sort of aching, and I could really use a dopamine lift.  Will end this caffeine addled ramble and go get more coffee...maybe then I can get some real work done.

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