When we hear the word “drugs,” certain things may come to our minds. Perhaps we think of the horrors intrinsic to the use of hard drugs- namely the life-shattering consequences brought upon from addiction to heroin, and cocaine, etc. Maybe we also think of prescription drugs, and their unfortunate proneness to overuse, misuse, and abuse. What many of us don’t realize, however, is that everyday products, which are legal, readily available and relatively inexpensive may also inflict seriously devastating effects on those who abuse them. One such drug, known to all and thought perhaps as innocuous, is caffeine. While caffeine in most instances is indeed a harmless part of many people’s day to day lives, it can have unforeseen side-effects if abused.
Caffeine is a popular stimulant, most commonly derived from the seeds of the coffee plant. Around 90% of North Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis, in one form or another. Caffeine, while technically a “psychoactive drug,” is largely unregulated, vigorously marketed, and almost universally socially accepted. The FDA classifies caffeine as “generally safe,” though notes that this classifier works only up until “toxic doses.” The FDA considers 10 grams per day a toxic amount for most adults. This, of course, is the problem- as the old adage goes, “the dose makes the poison.” Meaning, many things that seem safe in low quantities can become dangerous if taken in high enough dosages.
Caffeine effectively blocks the chemical receptors in the body responsible for making you feel drowsy and / or sleepy. Alertness and vivacity are the desired effects of caffeine intake. However, too much caffeine can result in adverse effects. Here are some symptoms that may occur when one is experiencing a caffeine overdose:
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Lightness of Head
- Flushing of the Face
If a patient presents with any five of these symptoms, they may be experiencing a caffeine overdose.
Nausea (and to a more severe degree, vomiting) is supposed to act as physiological failsafe, designed to impede our ability to intake unsafe levels of caffeine. Unfortunately, the human body is not always able to perfectly ward away harm. Unknowingly, or with persistence, a human being may be able to bypass these somatic red flags and, essentially, poison themselves with copious quantities of caffeine. And when caffeine levels rise to dangerous heights, they can wreak terrible havoc.
Addiction Takes Many Forms
When someone falls into a cycle of addiction, it may seem as though they’re trapped in a grim and inescapable spiral- to those insulated within the grips of dependence, and so too for loved ones, who may feel helpless, looking in from the outside. The truth is, there are always options for those grappling with addiction. There are even treatment centers for addiction to caffeine.
Cases of Caffeine Overdose
Most drastically, caffeine overdose can result in death. And while death by caffeine overexposure is rare, it is not unheard of. In 2007, a 19 year old died after ingesting somewhere around 25 “NoDoz” pills. NoDoz is an over-the-counter drug prescribed to raise alertness and stave off drowsiness. Similarly, in 2010, a 23 year old man was found dead having washed down 2 spoonfuls of pure caffeine powder with an energy drink. These cases may both seem like examples of extreme behavior. Both of the victims in question willingly self-prescribed far more caffeine than is necessary to achieve the “alert and awake” feeling desirable amongst most caffeine users. However, more commonplace consumptions of caffeine have resulted in tragedy. In 2011, a 14-year-old boy died after drinking two 24oz. energy drinks. In this case, though, the boy had routinely drank large amounts of the energy drink on a daily basis. This may’ve caused an aggregate effect, contributing to a long-term cardiac problem that ended, sadly, in the young man’s death.
There have been high-profile cases against popular manufacturers of caffeinated beverages alleging that the companies in question failed to disclose properly the potential hazards of caffeine overconsumption. Many of these companies fire back with claims that underlying health issues are generally the root cause of injury and death. While this may be true, that there are indeed mitigating factors in all caffeine-overdose related incidents, reparations have been paid to victims and their families in the past.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
The common nature of caffeine and caffeinated products belie the danger of the drug. And worse, the ubiquity of caffeine and its legality make it hard for some to self-diagnose a problem. Even the self-aware may not realize their level of abuse. How much, after all, is too much? At Kaplan Lawyers PC, we insist you contact a doctor or first-care provider at the slightest hint of addiction. If you’re unsure as to whether or not you suffer from a caffeine dependence problem, you can always contact Kaplan Lawyers PC for a free consultation. We can help measure the extent of your problem and evaluate whether or not you can make a case against the company that has put you in harm’s way. As mentioned earlier, it is possible to seek restitution if you believe a company inadequately warned against the dangers of their product. If you or a loved one has suffered from injuries, or worse, related to a caffeine overdose, it may be well within your rights to seek legal compensation for your physical and emotional distress. The experienced and compassionate team of attorneys at Kaplan Lawyers PC can help answer your questions and will skillfully guide you through your legal process.