What - Sophomore year of college - Chem 41 - Organic Chemistry.

When - Typical Tuesday Homework Session All-nighter.

Caffeine Source - two six packs of Cappio iced cappuccino beverage and a liter of Mountain Dew.

The student run convenience store in our dorm started stocking Cappio, and it quickly became a favorite of the all-nighter-finish-the-homework-the-night-before-its-due crowd as a source of motivation. I purchased 12 bottles of Cappio in preparation for many such nights. However, the assignment that Tuesday was particularly engrossing and I managed to down all twelve along with a liter of mountain dew. I finished the assignment just in time for the 10 am class.

Feeling rather bushy-tailed after the ordeal, I decided not only to turn in my assignment, but actually sit through the one hour lecture that was to follow. This was where I learned the meaning of 'coming down' firsthand. I was sitting at my desk, taking notes and feeling rather pleased with myself when about 20 minutes into the class - my body trembled. My jaw dropped as my head leaned to one side. My hand collapsed mid-sentence and the pencil fell to the floor. I slumped down in my chair, feeling about as tired and miserable as was possible.

My body had consumed all the caffeine in my 12-Cappio 1-Liter Mt. Dew binge and was ready to sleep. I sat through the remainder of the lecture with preternatural will-power, and went back to my room and slept the rest of the day.

After this kind of training in college, my body is caffeine saturated, and I often drink a pot of coffee in the morning without ill-effect. Caffeine is a part of me, a matrimony of chemical and biochemist.

BTW, does anybody know how to pronounce Heloise, of Hints from Heloise fame? Is it:

Hel oys - like Hell Boys?
Hellis - like Ellis Island?
Hel wahs - like something french?
apparently its Hella-wheeze. Thanks folks.

Though not mentioned in Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria (which is quoted in ivan37's writeup)1 an oft-sited practical symptom of caffine overdose is a sense of impending doom.

This is the symptom which makes attempts to sleep so tortuous: everything you've left unfinished, everything you regret, everything you've been worrying about whirls through your drug-addled mind, and it seems these things are enough to break you, or destroy any sense of order left in your life.

1. Verbatim from Frequently Asked Questions about Caffeine, available at http://www.cs.unb.ca/~alopez-o/Coffee/caffaq.html, which is worth a read. The newest version is kept at http://coffeefaq.com/caffaq.html but there are annoying graphics and such there.

Caffeine overdoses really profoundly suck. I have done this to my body only once, and I hope never to repeat the experience. Follow my example, and you'll discover a whole new, unique, world of shityness.

Caffeine's LD50 is somewhere around 10g, however, its rather harmful, toxic, and generally really bad for you at much lower doses. From my experience, the amount of caffeine it takes for things to become seriously unpleasant is dependent upon a variety of factors including caffeine tolerance, hydration, sleep, activity, and the phase of the moon. However, it's generally a good rule of thumb to never exceed about 1g a day. Personally, I've sworn never to take more than 600mg per day, due to this experience.

Anyhow, when I overdosed on caffeine, it was two years ago during my freshman year of high school, which was generally the most unpleasant year of my life. That year, I had what could be called a caffeine problem, which seriously managed to mess up my body and make me feel like shit most of the time. A normal weekday would follow the following pattern: two mugs of coffee in the morning, one 20oz mountain dew at break, another 20oz mountain dew at lunch, and maybe a frapuccino at home, totaling somewhere in the neighborhood of 400mg of caffeine. And I still crashed all afternoon. Because of this, I had a pretty phenomenal caffeine tolerance. I couldn't notice the effects of anything less than maybe 100mg, if not more. I'd also taken up the practice of drinking/ingesting copious quantities of caffeine, usually around 600mg, at night during the weekend, usually with friends, where I'd play video games and stuff like that.

The day I overdosed on caffeine, I had recently (that day? I don't remember) gotten a package of 200mg NoDoz caffeine pills. Anyhow, I was swallowing those things like candy all day. A pill in the morning, crush a pill into a smoothie (note: when crushing caffeine pills into smoothies, using your fingers is not adequate. It must be reduced to a fine powder, otherwise you get icky bitter caffeine pill chunks in your drink), whatever. I am not sure how much I had during the day, a random guess is somewhere between 400-600mg. Anyhow, that evening a friend and myself were at my place, and despite my stimulant loaded day, I was getting tired. So I popped a pill. And another. And still, I felt pretty tired. I never did get that typical bouncy-fun feeling that I usually would. So another, and another. I had between 1-1.2g of caffeine that night.

Let me tell you something, if you take up wards of 500mg of caffeine, and you're not bouncing off of things, it's just not gonna work, and you should just go the fuck to sleep, like your body obviously wants you to. Anyhow, the feelings that resulted that evening were really profoundly unpleasant. For most of the night, I felt twitchy, and nauseous, my head felt like someone had fired a .50 caliber Desert Eagle of pain into my forehead, I was sweating and dehydrated, and I was more or less curled up into a fetal ball of delusional feverish pain. It is an exceptionally unusual feeling being both tweaked out and twitchy while at the same time totally wasted. I must've thrown up a dozen times. This pretty much lasted from 10:00pm to 8:00am, when I finally managed to crash into a restless sleep on the couch in the living room (I don't remember why I didn't crash in my room, I think that my friend was making some degree of noise which to my fucked brain was like hammering my temples with a sledgehammer).

But that wasn't an end to the fun. Then came-- the hangover! Now, to be entirely honest, I've never been particularly drunk. In fact, at that time, I don't think I'd ever been inebriated to any extent. While I've certainly not had a hang over from alcohol before, judging from seeing other people, this was pretty fucking bad. I had a pounding headache, and threw up intermittently until the next day.

So, yeah, the moral of this story is that don't take a whole lot of caffeine, because it really fucking sucks.

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