Think addiction, and the first thing that comes to our mind is cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. We all know the side effects of these on our health and are therefore very cautious not to indulge in it and advise others against it. But what if you were to get addicted to something which you never knew would cause addiction? Something as innocent-looking like an energy drink? Surprised, aren’t you? So were we. Here’s why.
Energy drinks contain a high amount of caffeine, which is a stimulant that helps improve alertness of the brain (1). The amount of caffeine consumed determines the duration of the alertness. Although there is no conclusive piece of evidence regarding the effects of energy-drink addiction, a notably shocking and bizarre story surfaced on Facebook, on October 2017. It was the story of Austin whose life underwent an irreparable damage due to his over-dependence on energy drinks to cope with his hectic work schedules. Austin’s story was shared by his wife Brianna, who, at that time, was in the last lap of her pregnancy with their first child. Their heart-wrenching journey was captured by Sara Endres, a photographer based out of Sacramento, CA.
According to the post, a few weeks before her due date, Brianna was woken up by her mother-in-law and informed that Austin had had an accident. Not knowing any of the whys and where-foes, Brianna rushed to the hospital with Austin’s parents only to find them break down on seeing their son’s lifeless body strapped to tubes and machines.
After witnessing heartrending scenes, Brianna gathered her composure to hear out the doctors, who informed her that, after running a series of medical tests, they concluded that Austin’s energy drink addiction could have led to his current condition, a brain hemorrhage.
The doctors had already initiated a surgery, which lasted for 5 hours. However, this was just the first of a series of surgeries which followed seizures, strokes, and swellings. Two weeks later, following Austin’s hospitalization, Brianna had to head home as she was due already.
In Brianna’s own words, it was hard not having Austin by her side, as planned earlier, to witness the birth of their baby. However, Austin miraculously woke up from his coma soon after Brianna delivered their son!
But this also meant that now Brianna had a dual task of looking after her newborn as well as Austin. In between managing her infant, Brianna would squeeze in hospital visits as much as she could to check on Austin. Finally, after 2 months of hospitalization and innumerable surgeries, Austin lived, but with an irreparable hole in his head.
However, the silver lining was that he was eventually able to meet his 2-month-old son. Now, Brianna bravely takes care of her little son’s and her permanently-disabled husband’s needs. While therapies and hospital visits are part of her daily routine, Brianna says about Austin in her post, and we quote, “Love is selfless, and I love him more than life itself.”
While this post had shocked the world, there were many who began to question its authenticity (2). The fact that this post did not give out details like the last names of Austin and Brianna, the city they lived in, the hospital name where the complex surgeries were performed, or the fact that this post, in a few days after it was up, was soon deleted, raised many doubts.
Whether a caffeine overdose is fatal or not may still be a matter of debate. But what we do know is that, just like cigarettes or alcohol, the number of energy drinks consumed and the time gap between each should be carefully monitored. There has been at least one incident where drinking too many energy drinks in a short period of time has claimed the life of a teenager (3); reason enough for the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue a warning against energy drinks consumption among children and teenagers (4).
Finally, whatever may be the case with respect to the truth in Brianna and Austin’s story, it has at least got people talking about the ill effects of energy drinks consumption. And like it is always said, it’s better to be safe than sorry.