Jacques Mattheij

Technology, Coding and Business

This white powder will kill me one day

There are lots of bad things that you can insert into your system through various ways that all seem to be represented in physical form as white powder. Heroin, Cocaine, various other chemicals that people will consume in order to alter their state of consciousness. I hate drugs, with a passion. I’ve seen up close in many people during my years in Amsterdam what drugs can do to a healthy human body and it isn’t pretty. Having a dad that was a full blown alcoholic (brilliant when he was sober, mean tempered and agressive when he was not) probably helped a lot too.

So, long ago, when I was 12 or so I told myself that that would never ever happen to me. There was absolutely no way I was going to end up an addict to any of this stuff and become a living wreck. So instead of giving in to peer pressure and joining the club, I vowed to simply abstain from any drug at all. No Beer, Wine, Spirits, smokes, hash, coke or other dope for me. I wanted to be healthy and to live as long as possible while keeping my body in as good a shape as I could. Peer pressure by the way, especially to consume alcohol or to smoke pot is absolutely enormous when you’re a teenager. The amount of scorn heaped on me and the kind of treatment I got for not joining in any of this ought to be illegal. Kids can really be dumb when it comes to things like this and pressuring someone to join you in an act against your own interest especially when the pressure is from a group aimed at an individual is something that ought to be illegal. Fortunately I can take heat like that fairly well or I would have surely given in.

My plan was to simply not start any of this, that way I wouldn’t have to stop either. (one of my weaknesses is that if I like something I tend to do it a lot, by not finding out of I like something I thought I could elegantly side-step the problem).

Good plan! If only I had realized I was already addicted when I made that vow. The white powder seems to have gotten hold of me at an age early enough that I didn’t even realize how far in I was when I told myself ‘no drugs’.

Here is my vice: sugar.

It doesn’t seem as though it is very bad compared to the other ones in the list above. After all, you can buy it (legally, for a change) on every other street corner in convenient 2 pound bags. It’s really cheap too. Buy as much as you want, there is more if you need it. The DEA is not going to lift you from your bed for moving it from the distribution point into your house, it is transported by truck in plain sight instead of by submarine or ingested plastic balls because it is not a proscribed substance. Your kids will not be placed in foster homes if you are identified as a heavy user and everybody around you will be of the opinion that it is perfectly ok that you consume this chemical.

Sugar is poison, and much as I hate it, it seems that I can’t kick the habit. It really angers me to know that this substance seems to have a hold over me that I can’t break. Periodically I’ll try to get rid of it. I drink tea, lots of it, several liters per day. And I sweeten that tea with sugar. If I don’t drink my tea my head feels like mush. That’s why kicking the habit is so hard. It is as if there is something real and tangible that I get out of all this sugar, it raises the fog and makes it easier to think about stuff. If I don’t use sugar (but still drink the tea) then I simply get (or feel, hard to tell the difference) very low on energy. All I can do then is consume media, mostly reading and sit around. I’ve tried to write code while abstaining from sugar but it just doesn’t work. I’m not sure what the link is here, all I know is that without that chemical in my bloodstream for some reason I can’t get my head in first gear, let alone second or third.

Very frustrating. Extra frustrating because I know just how bad taking in these quantities of sugar is. Sugar has been linked to all kinds of disorders, especially when used in excess. None of it instantly fatal, more a kind of steady erosion of the system. A slow poisoning. When I observe myself aside from the dependency I can’t find any real signs of degeneration yet, but that’s something that probably every addict would say. And likely that’s just a matter of time. At 3 liters of tea per day (a fairly accurate estimate), 1.5 teaspoons per glass, 5 glasses per liter that’s 15 * 1.5 teaspoons per day, or 22.5 teaspoons. A teaspoon is 5 grams of sugar, so that makes for 112.5 grams, or a kilogram of sugar for every 9 days. That’s 40 Kg per year, I started this when I was 11 or so, figure 36 years since then so about 1.5 tonnes of sugar consumed since then!

Kicking this habit is something that I’ll need to do. Tomorrow, maybe. Right now I feel like having a nice cup of tea.