If you ask an adult to name something they can’t live without, chances are, they will tell you “caffeine”. While our older relatives are used to getting their caffeine fix with a cup (or six) of coffee each morning, Millenials have been raised with caffeine in a variety of products. Aside from your typical cup of coffee, the past few decades have introduced energy drinks, caffeinated gum, and the infamous Four Loko, which is basically every college student’s dream: caffeinated alcohol. With the introduction of so many caffeinated products, it’s no surprise that companies have decided to jump on this phenomenon and start marketing powdered caffeine. What is a surprise, however, is the FDA’s decision to remove said powders from shelves due to health concerns.
In a majority of middle school and high school health classes, students are warned about the dangers of drug use, yet caffeine is rarely mentioned. This poses a problem because many Americans reach adulthood and never realize that caffeine consumption can cause a variety of risks. If consumers are unaware of the health risks caused by caffeine, many may decide to purchase powdered caffeine because it seems like a quality alternative to coffee or energy drinks. According to the FDA, powdered caffeine is typically mixed into drinks, and a teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equal to twenty-eight cups of coffee. In today’s society, powdered caffeine may seem like the ideal product. It’s more effective than an energy drink, it’s cheaper than a daily trip to Starbucks, you won’t have to worry about someone getting your order wrong, and it can enhance your level of fitness since it boosts metabolism. However, the powder is so strong, it is easy for consumers to ingest too much caffeine and suffer from dangerous side effects, including seizures and vomiting. Caffeine-related health issues have become so dangerous that an Ohio couple decided to sue Amazon after their son died of an overdose from powdered caffeine. While powdered caffeine is no longer available on Amazon, the site still sells 200 mg capsules for less than $8 a bottle, which is a pretty great bargain until you realize they will probably land you in a hospital bed.
As Millenials, we take on incredibly busy lives. Some of us are working long hours to pay back student loans, some are trying to find the strength to go out on a Friday night after working all week, others are going to school full time to earn a degree, and some are attempting to work and go to school simultaneously. Naturally, a spoonful of caffeine or a single pill is the cheapest, most convenient way to keep us going. We can pop one in whenever we start feeling exhausted, and have enough energy to finish studying for finals, or stay out until the bars close. Although these products seem like the perfect solution after a busy day, it is important to remember that this dose of “magic” can come with life threatening risks. Caffeine can become addicting, and taking large doses can be lethal. While many of us wish there were more hours in a day to accomplish things, it is important to be cautious when using caffeine as an alternative to sleep. Using caffeine may make us feel like Superman, but even Superman has a weakness, and caffeine might be ours.
This article was written by Kim Dilisio, a writer for dusk magazine.