Fifteen litres of Lucozade a day.
That’s not a post-match supply for a rugby team, but rather the jaw-dropping amount of the energy drink UK restaurateur Kayleigh Judge washed down every day.
“I was addicted as any drug addict,” Kayleigh says.
“Often, I’d pick up six 500ml bottles on the way to work, then six more at lunchtime and six more on the way home – then I’d work my way through six 1-litre bottles in the evening, totalling 15 litres in 24 hours,” she adds.
The mother-of-three’s addiction to energy drinks hit an all-time high during her first marriage in her late 20s, and she admits that drinking that much Lucozade became a coping mechanism.
It became her best friend, she says, and she would often serve as a meal replacement.
And like any other addict, not getting her fix would lead to withdrawal symptoms.
“If I didn’t get my fix I became a truly nasty person and would lash out. I’m sure my energy-drink addiction was a significant contributing factor in my relationship ending.”
The 36-year-old would probably still be battling the addiction if it hadn’t been for a health scare when she was 30.
After being diagnosed with high blood pressure, something had to give.
She was given medication to lower her blood pressure and decided to quit cold turkey, opting for other carbonated drinks, including Diet Coke and Fanta.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” says Kayleigh, who suspects that her Lucozade dependency contributed significantly to her diagnosis.
But, she does indulge in a bottle of the energy drink once in a while as a way of coping.
She says she’s banned her teenage sons, Tyler (16) and Lee (14), from having the energy drink and would be content if such products were banned.
“I won’t stock it in my restaurant or let my sons have it in the house. We have so many arguments because they see energy drinks as cool,” Kayleigh says.
“I don’t see why these drinks exist. I wish I’d never started on them.”
Energy drinks mainly market themselves as sports drinks but, as theecologist.org points out, these days they appeal to a broader audience, “from tired drivers and office workers putting in long hours to gym bunnies, clubbers and students, none of whom need or are looking to improve their sports performance”.
These drinks, theecologist.org concludes, “can make a valid contribution to the performance of sportspeople who train at the very highest level. For those who go to the gym twice a week, however, the benefit is negligible. For children the effect of such drinks can be devastating, giving them a quick boost followed by a deep low”.
In an earlier incident back in 2017, a 25-year-old man, Justin Bartholomew, committed suicide allegedly due to his addiction to energy drinks.
Like Kayleigh, he turned to energy drinks when his marriage was on the rocks and it became an uphill battle from then on.
His father, Keiron, says the drinks turned him into a zombie.
“He was severely depressed and felt he needed the drinks to keep him going,” Keiron says.
“But it became a vicious cycle of needing more and more to get through the day. He was getting less and less sleep, which made the depression worse.
“I believe Justin’s normal coping mechanisms weren’t in place because of his energy-drink addiction.”
A year after going under the care of a mental-health crisis team, Justin died by suicide.
JOIN THE YOU BOOK CLUB | Sign up for our free weekly books newsletter and get access to reviews, author interviews, book extracts and giveaways
SOURCES: THESUN.CO.UK, BORINGBUZZ.COM, DAILYMAIL.CO.UK. THEECOLOGIST.ORG