Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hallucination & Caffeine.

A friend of mine linked me to an article about a potential correlation between caffeine intake and hallucination.  My mom and I both have stories about ingesting heavy doses of caffeine, falling asleep, and waking to find that we were seeing things.  

As best I remember, my mom's story took place in college.  She was studying for an important exam (of course), and many cups of coffee were consumed.  Despite her best efforts, she eventually succumbed to sleep.  When she woke, it was to dots of various colors and sizes swimming through her field of vision.*

My story involves a lot more horror and a boatload of stupidity.  In high school, I had an attractive friend that worked at a late-night diner.  She told stories of the soda she'd drink and the caffeine pills she'd pop in order to keep going through her shifts after being at school all day.  Being a teenager, I thought that getting a buzz from completely-legal caffeine pills sounded like a fine idea.  I invested in a very cheap false pocketwatch designed to hold old persons' daily medication and in a bottle of No-Doz tablets.

I imagine you can see where this story is headed.  I downed a few tablets in the morning and felt pleasantly buzzed.  After a class or so, of course, the buzz began to die down.  The answer?  Pop more pills!

All day.  Buzz going down?  More pills!  More pills!  More pills!

By the beginning of seventh period, I felt like crap.  I wasn't capable of much more than lying with my head on my desk, looking pitiful (which quite frustrated my straight-laced physics teacher).  I desperately wanted to vomit, but my repeated attempts brought no results.  The day eventually ended; I got a ride home from my friend Alex (and his mother - thank you, Mrs. Zaballa) and crashed on one of our recliners.

I tried to sleep, but it wouldn't come.  My heart raced.  I sweat buckets.  After a few hours I moved to my bedroom and finally drifted off.  I entered a hellish nightmare: I was surrounded by huge tarantulas.  They covered the ground around me completely; the spot where I stood was the only free space of any size.  I leapt far up into the air and spent several seconds looking down and discovered two things.  The first was that the tarantulas' hair was changing colors to match the ground below.  The second was that they had moved into the spot I previously occupied, causing me to frantically search for and try to land in another open spot.  I did find one and immediately leapt back into the air, searching for the next place I could come down.

The dream continued for a short while before I woke with a start.  Unfortunately, when I opened my eyes, one of the foot-wide "chameleon" tarantulas was two inches in front of my face.

I yelled and leapt up, but the giant spider remained.  It took about three seconds for the hallucination to disappear.  That may not seem like a long time, but it was an eternity when faced with a monster tarantula.  The rest of the night was filled with exhaustion and nausea, but it wasn't anything like seeing a nightmare when you wake.

I swore off caffeine pills after that, but I still drink a fair amount in various sodas and teas.  There have been no visual hallucinations to report, but every now and again I hear things that aren't there.  It's usually very limited: I'll hear a voice that isn't there say one, maybe two words.  That it might be tied to my caffeine intake never crossed my mind (even though both the hallucination stories in my family are direct results of caffeine overdose).

I'd love to hear other stories about hallucinating, no matter the cause.  Was it visual, auditory, tactile?  Did you have a good time, or was it horrible?  I encourage you to leave your story in the comments below!

*I'm recalling the story as best I can; my mom hasn't told it in a while.

1 comment:

vcx312 said...

One time I took only 2 caffeine pills, I never linked the 2 in the past but one time i had drank maybe 10 sodas and started to have auditory hallucinations to the point where i cried, drifted to sleep, and awoke to find the voices gone. Well, one night, about 4 days ago I took the 2 caffeine pills like I said, about 500 MG, with a soda, went to sleep, woke up the next morning and took another 2, with a soda, and went about my day almost fine. Then at about 8PM me and my friends got ahold of Marijuana (which, does not have enough THC to cause auditory nor visual hallucinations.) I smoke a fair amount ( maybe 0.6-1gram?) and hear a voice clear as day whisper my name "Eric" over and over, it wasnt a whisper at first, it was like it was talking. Then i went to sleep only to find the next morning the voices had not dissipated, but now I believe it's just in my head, I feel like I may be hearing things but I know im not, the voice isnt their enough and is too unreal for it to be an hallucination. Although it is still bothering me, hopefully this dissipates with time.