Warning for 'wide-awake' teen drunks
Teenagers need to be aware of the dangers of mixing caffeine-loaded drinks with alcohol - turning them into 'wide-awake drunks' - with potentially deadly effects.
The warning comes after the tragic death of a happy, healthy Sydney teenager who was found with a lethal amount of alcohol in her system at her family home.
Police are investigating the use of online material which may have influenced the excessive amount of alcohol consumed, while energy drinks were also found at the Kenthurst property.
It only takes three energy drinks to alter a person's perception of their levels of intoxication, Macquarie University associate professor Melissa Norberg said on Wednesday.
"People have coined the term 'the wide-awake drunk' - when you are more alert but still at the same level of intoxication," Prof Norberg told AAP.
"(And) although fewer adolescents are drinking alcohol than in previous years, when they do drink, they are likely to choose a caffeinated alcoholic beverage."
It is a view supported by University of Queensland professor Jake Najman, who says young people are mixing drugs and stimulants so they can stay awake and keep drinking for longer.
"If you drink over a certain period of time you will feel sleepy and relaxed and you might well stop drinking simply because you are really tired," Prof Najman told AAP.
"But if you are using a stimulant then that changes the equation quite a lot and you are now active, vigorous and able to keep drinking for longer periods of time".
Family friend Peter McDonald, who was beside 15-year-old Paris Kamper and her family only hours before the teenager's life support was switched off at the Children's Hospital in Westmead on Monday, urged youngsters to make wise choices.
"If you're a younger person reading this, your Dad and Mum need to be fun police sometimes to protect you from yourself," Mr McDonald posted on Facebook.
Paris's blood-alcohol reading was at 0.4 - well in the lethal range for alcohol.
Geoff Munro from the Alcohol and Drug Foundation says Australia needs to change its drinking habits and claims the alcohol industry has too much freedom promoting drinks to young people.
He said teenagers especially don't realise how lethal alcohol can be.
"It doesn't matter whether you're mixing up your own or just drinking it out of a bottle, if you're drinking a large amount, it can kill you," Mr Munro told AAP.
© AAP 2018