A recent caffeine overdose at a British university shows that any drug can be deadly if administered in sufficient quantities.
Caffeine is a substance that most of us take daily and it isn’t on anybody’s list of harmful drugs. However, the truth is that it can actually be life-threatening if a critical amount is consumed, just like with any other psychoactive drug. Now, that doesn’t mean an extra cup of coffee will put you in any danger, but there are other ways to overdose on this seemingly benign and allegedly mild stimulant.
In a 2015 incident that received a lot of media coverage, two students of Northumbria University were urgently hospitalised and barely held on to their lives. The reason was a massive caffeine overdose that was the result of a gross miscalculation by their professors. Young men were a part of scientific research designed to demonstrate how this substance impacts the ability of the human body to conduct physical effort. The only problem was that instead of 0.3 grams, they were given 30 grams – an equivalent of around 300 cups of coffee. The educators were recently found guilty of negligence in the court of law, with a fine of 400,000 pounds attached to the verdict.
While there is a lot to be said about botching the measurement for two decimal places, this episode highlights a far more important issue. Our perception of what constitutes a dangerous substance is largely influenced by dosage and individual’s capacity to withstand intoxication. A certain substance can be completely safe if taken in appropriate quantity, yet quite deadly if the reasonable threshold is exceeded. This is further complicated by the fact that different individuals may have vastly different tolerance levels, so the dose that is acceptable for one person could easily kill another.
Knowledge of all drugs is important
With caffeine, we know pretty well what dose can be the consumer without jeopardy, but that’s not the case with illegal drugs. Due to an absence of clinical research and uncertain purity of these products, misjudging the dose happens far more often. Instead of labelling any substance as ‘evil’ per se, we would be better advised to intensify research and ascertain where the safe limits actually are. It seems logical that this approach would be far more efficient in preventing accidental health risks than outright prohibition that the governments currently subscribe to without questioning its effectiveness and justification.
This article was originally written in English, If you see any errors please email us at words@The-TripReport.com