I’ve always had a rather odd relationship with the world’s most popular drug. As a youth, I used to enjoy nothing more than coming home from school and making myself a cup of tea. And maybe a crafty bowl of cereal…

Then there would be the social teas. The tea after tea. Or dinner, as some people call it. And then the late night tea, perhaps taken around 9-10pm, to round the day off.

But then when I started my first proper job, I got a sickener of it. While I was there, the routine was TEA TEA TEA. In other words, the job was so long and monotonous with its eight-hour shifts with no breaks, that the only way to break it up into manageable portions was with a distraction. The only such distractions were a) the radio (forever tuned to some dance music shit); and b) TEA

So brewing up became a very common occurrence. And so did going the toilet. For all that liquid, and all that mildly diuretic caffeine has to go somewhere.

Until the day I decided I’d had enough. No more tea. And no more coffee either. It was the only way to stop it. It didn’t even taste nice, I realised. I was basically drinking a cup of hot, heavily diluted milk.

So all of a sudden that took me off tea duty. Not just at work, but at home. Now the regular cups of tea were gone. For a few weeks, I battled the most horrible cravings for it. Especially after a meal, my brain would be saying TEA TEA TEA. I had to resist. It was the only way to rid myself of this rather odd craving. I viewed it as a weakness to be removed.

In the end, the feelings subsided. At last, I was free. One day I suddenly noticed that I was no longer craving it. And for the follow six years or so, a cup of tea or coffee didn’t pass my lips.

Several years later, in university, I relented. One of my housemates liked to do the social coffee thing. I felt I was missing out, so joined in. I was then amazed by the rush the caffeine gave to me, after years of, presumably, becoming sensitised to it again. But still I resisted tea. It never really had any taste of anything remotely interesting.

This was still extremely irregular. Maybe one cup of coffee every month. I could still claim “I don’t drink tea or coffee” with a straight face.

Then when I started working in my current job, the one I made for myself, things changed again. Regular house visits, and telling people I don’t drink tea or coffee and trying to explain it became a bit of a chore. Besides, the strategy of sending someone away to make a drink is very useful for getting on with the job without being constantly watched over like a hawk…

So I relented. And as I got busier and busier, one tea a week became three, became five. Coffees thrown in there too for good measure. There was one particular client I visited who I would class as a chain tea-drinker. One cup would finish, and the kettle would be on for the next.

Now I am definitely back in the position of caffeine addiction. So much so that I feel I’m now dependent on it if I want to stay reasonably useful. I have noticed that if I don’t do any callouts, and therefore drink no tea, and deliberately abstain from making myself a cup, I get the most awful headaches. Withdrawal symptoms. Oddly, I don’t remember ever suffering them when I first gave up caffeine. If I had, I may never have quit in the first place.

Sometimes I ride them out, determined to win the battle in my body. But others, I have to relent.

Caffeine is here to stay. It’s just as well (some) coffees taste so nice that they justify the addiction…