Thoughts & Views: How sweet was my habit

Now it can be told: Growing up as a kid, I was an addict.

Seems that I just could not get enough Coca-Cola.

If I had to drink milk – and I was forced to get that calcium – I insisted that I be allowed to mix in some chocolate flavoring or, better yet, Coke.

(Interesting that I later learned I was lactose intolerant.) Which also probably explains why I never really got along with my mom and constantly rebelled at all of her suggestions, or should I say, commands. Dad, being at work mostly, missed all the fun.

In its early years of production, according to Wikipedia, Coke had an estimated nine milligrams of cocaine – derived from the coca plant – per glass and was promoted for medicinal use but, reportedly in 1903, the cocaine was eliminated.

Today, a can of Coke ( 12 ounces) is said to have 39 grams of carbs – all from sugar – plus 34 mg of caffeine, 50 mg of sodium and 140 calories.

So apparently it wasn’t the cocaine that got me but the combination of caffeine and sugar that did me in.

Next, figuring that I had to live up my fuzzy image of what a newspaperman was supposed to be, I spent too many nights getting wasted on beer in my choice of dive bars followed by late night dining.

That led to Type 2 diabetes and a steady diet of meds since I refused injections of insulin. Why am I blathering on about the tales of a reprobate news hound? Because I’m not unique. Many of us in the general population come to depend on something we don’t need that robs us of time and energy we could be investing in a more productive, healthy way.

On Friday, as reported by The Star-Ledger, a survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention shows that more and more kids in middle and high schools are being turned on to nicotine, thanks to the novelty of the e-cigarette which, it is feared, is becoming a “… ‘gateway’ to a lifetime of smoking.”

And in Sunday’s New York Times, we learned that more and more collegians and people in the workplace who face a lot of deadline stress have been popping stimulants just to keep pace. Many cannot stop taking the pills and end up in substance abuse treatment centers.

Behavioral psychologists would likely tell us that the roots of addictive personalities are found in our DNA and cultural upbringing.

I’m not quite sure what it is that drives people to stand on line for hours and hours to grab the latest product from Apple, for example, but I guess it keeps our economy going.

Still, habits – no matter what they are – can be broken if we want to break them. I pretty much gave up drinking beer some years ago, no longer take sugar with my coffee, have Soy milk with my cereal. I’m still trying to revamp my daily food menu.

Some habits, though, I don’t want to give up. Like reading. And puns. Maybe I’d make some people happier if I stopped writing columns like this but, sorry, every other week I’m called on to fill this space.

Have a good week!

– Ron Leir 

The Observer Staff