A Diet Coke addict has spent almost £150,000 downing up to TEN LITRES of the fizzy drink every day.
Mum-of-five Jakki Ballan started drinking Diet Coke at the age of 14 and has been hooked ever since, her 30-year dependence becoming so severe that at at her worst she was shelling out up to £500 a month.
Jakki, 42, still consumes up to ten litres of Coke a day and is thrown into fits of panic if she doesn’t have the drink nearby.
She is now seeking medical treatment, including hypnotherapy, to conquer her demons after suffering hallucinations as a result of consuming so much.
Jakki, from Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, said: “This addiction is taking over my life.
“I can’t even go out of the house without making sure I’ve got enough Coke on me.
“I won’t do the school run unless I have at least two 500ml bottles in my handbag.”
Jakki suffers from constant headaches and said of her occasional hallucinations: “It was really scary as at first I didn’t know what was going on.
“I could see things that weren’t there and then I would have to sit down and calm myself before carrying on.
“I am constantly tired, but all the caffeine I consume means I have trouble sleeping.
“So I end up sitting awake at night and drinking even more Coke.
“It’s a vicious cycle I can’t seem to get out of.”
Jakki’s addiction has meant the the stay-at-home mum spends as much as £2,500 a year on her Diet Coke habit.
She said: “I won’t let my kids go without, but when it comes to my own needs Diet Coke comes first.
“I class it as another utility bill.
“I don’t go out and socialise.
“I very rarely go shopping for myself and I don’t get my hair cut very often.
“I’d rather go without cigarettes than Diet Coke.”
Jakki’s problem began when she was 14 and despite visiting GPs they have failed to find a solution to help her quit.
She added: “The GP told me that it’s a soft drink: just stop.
“If I could stop I would have already.
“Alcoholics get help, people addicted to cigarettes get patches and drug addicts get weaned off slowly.
“This is a real addiction but no one will help me.
“I’ve tried doing it on my own and going cold turkey, but it hasn’t worked.
“I am scared for my health.
“I want to be around to see my kids grow up.
“I dread to think what my insides look like.”
She added: “I am doing this only to raise awareness and would like to make a plea to parents please do not give your children coke due to the ingredients.”
Dr Sarah Schenker, a dietician for the British Dietetic Association, insisted Jakki’s habit is likely to cause ‘worrying damage’ to her bones.
Dr Schenker said: “Although we may not technically describe her condition as an addiction, it’s obvious that this woman is suffering very real cravings that are influencing her life.
“Drinking Diet Coke has become part of her routine and the reward system in her brain may be responding to it.
“Fizzy drinks contain phosphorous, which is not harmful in small doses.
“But if it’s consumed in very large doses it can be bad for bone health.
“It’s this lasting damage that is worrying.
“But my biggest concern is that if this woman is filling herself up on Diet Coke she will not be eating a balanced diet and giving her body the nutrients it needs.”
Coca Cola has previously said in response to suggestions of Coke addiction: “Our packaging clearly shows caffeine, calorie and sugar content in relation to recommended daily guidelines.”