We sure do love our caffeine in this country. All across America, the day begins with percolating coffee and steeping tea, and for many, the caffeine fix keeps coming throughout the day. We joke about our need for caffeine and treat each cup coffee, tea, or soda as if it were a lifeline.
But how much caffeine is too much? And would you — or your kids — know when the caffeine has gone too far?
We talk to our kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol regularly, but how often is caffeine included in that conversation? I would venture to bet that most kids, and even most adults, have never even thought about the possibility of a caffeine overdose.
Yet the danger is real, and thanks to unregulated caffeine powders that can be purchased online or anywhere energy drinks are sold, kids can now get their hands on insane amounts of caffeine, a drug that no one even thinks of as a drug that has become a popular way to lose weight and get revved up for a party. Aside from the obvious dangers of consuming large amounts of caffeine, the biggest worry about caffeine powder is that the difference between a dose and a lethal dose is difficult to measure.
A family in LaGrange, Ohio, now understands that worry all too well. Earlier this summer, just before graduation, senior Logan Stiner died from taking an overdose of caffeine powder. At the time of his death, Stiner — a wrestler who was bound for the University of Toledo in the fall — had 70 micrograms of caffeine per milliliter of blood in his system. According to the coroner's report, that is as much as 23 times the amount consumed by the average coffee or soda drinker. The worst part? Stiner's parents had no idea that their teen was using caffeine powder until bags of it were found in their home after the boy's death.
Stiner's case has served as a wake-up call to parents, school districts, and federal regulators about the dangers of caffeine powder. The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that it is investigating the substance and will consider regulation. Many school districts are now adding information about caffeine overdose to their materials on the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Now it's up to parents to do the same.
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