My 20k Diet Coke Addiction Was Harder To Quit Than Smoking, And I Bet There Are Thousands Out There Like Me

06/06/2017 13:06 BST | Updated 06/06/2017 13:07 BST

I am in love with Diet Coke. I've been drinking it every day for over 18 years and have managed to spend more than £20,000 on my drug of choice.

I'm not talking a can now and then either. I would consume around 2L a day, every single day.

People who care about me would tell me that it wasn't good for me, but although I knew, I wasn't interested in listening.

I lost teeth thanks to my habit and had to pay hundreds of pounds on dentist bills to hide my obsession.

I thought I was alone when it came to addiction, (and I call it an addiction because it very much is).

If I didn't drink Diet Coke - constantly, I would get headaches and feel weak. If I was running low on my stash, I'd start to get panicky.

I would have Diet Coke for breakfast and even get up in the middle of the night to have a glass. I didn't feel like I had a choice, I needed it.

However, I found that I am far from alone. We have a problem here.

So in January, I sat down to consider the financial aspect of my Diet Coke habit and for the first time in years, came face to face with the realities of it and wrote a blog post.

I didn't expect much to come from it (apart from maybe people telling me I'm an idiot), but the response was overwhelming. Hundreds of people contacted me to tell me that they were addicted too. That giving up was harder than smoking and it was making them ill.

Now I know there is no evidence to say Diet Coke is harmful (I would tell myself, and others that all the time), but being addicted to anything isn't good for you - physically and financially.

So I gave up. I stopped drinking it. Something had switched in my head and I knew I wasn't ever going to drink it again.

It wasn't easy. And I had horrible withdrawal symptoms. I've personally given up smoking which was a walk in the park compared to the fizzy brown stuff.

After about a week, I realised anything physical about the addiction was over. It was the psychological bit I needed to get over.

The most striking thing I noticed is that I stopped craving sugar. I got into drinking Diet Coke at 13 years old because that's when I started joining slimming clubs, which peddle Diet Coke as a calorie-free way to fill up.

My body kept thinking it was getting sugar, but it wasn't - so made me want to get the sugar in my system another way (chocolate for me).

If you're someone who drinks a lot of Diet Coke, and has a sweet tooth, consider giving up - because I found it was the zero calorie drink making me consume all those extra calories.

We don't take Diet Coke addiction seriously and I'm sure there are plenty of people who will tell me it doesn't exist.

But I have spoken to hundreds of people who are spending thousands of pounds they can't afford on something that is hurting them. I think sometimes you need to flag an issue so people start to realise it is a valid problem.

If you're someone who is relating to this, I just wanted to let you know that you aren't alone. If I could quit Diet Coke, you can too.

If you're thinking, "Seriously, just stop. This is no worse than a 'chocolate addiction' or someone who just can't get enough of cake.' Here are some comments from real people who are at the end of their tether:

"Wow yes, this is me, only I think I am far worse. I drink between 3 and 4 litres a day. I have a bottle here next to my bed, it is the first thing I do when I wake in the morning. I know I need to stop it is really like a drug I crave it all the time."

"This is exactly me! I buy the big 30 can boxes of Diet Coke and it only lasts a week. I too have teeth problems and only the other week I bit into a soft chocolate (my other bad habit ) and my tooth just disintegrated. I have tried giving up several times but hated the headaches and mood swings. "

"Just gave up a week ago as I had a kidney stone. Now only drinking water / squash. At my worst I was on around 15 cans a day, I've had some every day for about 30 years. I'd have one sitting to sip from on the soap rest in the shower in the morning. It was all I was drinking and I ended up dehydrated with a kidney stone. I'm glad I had a wake-up call."

I want slimming clubs to stop promoting Diet Coke as a good idea, and I want to start a conversation. If you are someone with a Diet Coke problem, join this Facebook group I just created so we can see the size of the problem, and hopefully start a real conversation.