Food & Drinks

The terrifying effects of energy drinks mixed with alcohol

Here's why spiked energy drinks can be fatal.

By Holly Royce

15-year-old Paris Kamper was found unconscious at her Kenthurst home in Sydney's northwest last week, after fighting for her life for three days, Paris passed away in hospital.

Police have reported that alcohol "led directly or indirectly" to her death.

"Upon arrival at the hospital, we were informed that her blood alcohol content was .40, which is understood to be well in the lethal limit for alcohol consumption," Hills Police Area Command Superintendent Critchlow said in a statement.

It's also understood the 15-year-old, described as a "lovely" and "free-spirited young girl", had been looking up instructions on mixing energy drinks and alcohol online.

Paris Kamper via Facebook
Paris Kamper via Facebook

Whether this combination had anything to do with her death will be determined by the toxicology report and post-mortem examination to be completed later this week.

"Anyone who thinks making an instructional video on how to consume excess amounts of alcohol in a dangerous manner is sensible or desirable they need to stop it," Supt Critchlow said.

"The young girl has died alone, in a place that should be safe and it's really pointless, there's no need for this."

"If it was the case these videos and online platforms contributed to her decision to take the amount of alcohol which she did, which has then led to her death, we'll definitely look at any options available to us legally," Critchlow said.

Police are urging parents to discuss the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks with their teenagers.

What happens when you mix alcohol with caffeine?

It can cause permanent damage to the structure of the brain

Science has discovered rather startling similarities between the consumption of alcohol and energy drinks, and a certain illicit drug has on the body.

The study comes from Indiana's Purdue University, who analysed the brain chemistry of adolescent mice who had been given alcohol mixed with caffeine and those who had been given cocaine.

Lead researcher Dr. Richard van Rijn and his team noted that the mixed-drink group of mice showed staggeringly similar physical and neurochemical characteristics to that of those mice who were given cocaine, and, what's more, they even suffered permanent damage due to a protein created by the mix called FosB, which changes your brain's chemistry.

"It seems the two substances (high-energy drinks and alcohol) together push them over a limit that causes changes in their behaviour and changes the neurochemistry in their brains," he explained.

"We're clearly seeing effects of the combined drinks that we would not see if drinking one or the other."

Caffeine interferes with signals in our brain that tell us we've had enough alcohol

Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at George Washington University in Washington, DC told Woman's Day that this could lead to drinking too much and all the risks associated with it, including alcohol poisoning and risky behavior like drunk driving,