Everyone seems to be talking about one particular drink this year. A cheap fix, this drink has been called “a blackout in a can.” Students have been found passed out and poisoned enough to be hospitalized thanks to a particular caffeinated alcoholic beverage.
Four Lokos have become widely used at Whittier College and colleges nationwide. A Four Loko is a 23.5-ounce can containing a 12 percent alcohol concentration. The drink comes in a variety of flavors that make it appealing. The brand name “Four” is originated from the four main ingredients: caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol. The company says the amount of caffeine in one Four Loko is the equivalent of a tall Starbucks coffee and the alcohol is equivalent to three regular beers.
According to an e-mail sent to the student body by Associate Dean of Students Andre Coleman, Four Loko was responsible for nine Central Washington University students being hospitalized with blood alcohol content (BAC) ranging from 0.123 percent to 0.35 percent. A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.3 percent is considered lethal. The e-mail goes on to describe the dangers in more detail, “These beverages have caused students to experience: walking blackouts, hyper-vigilance, anxiety, heart palpitations, psychosis-like episodes, extreme mood swings, alcohol poisoning and other dangerous consequences. These effects are largely related to the mixing of alcohol, a depressant that slows down respiration and heart rate with caffeine, a stimulant that has the ability to mask the effects alcohol.”
Phusion Projects, LLC, the company that produces Four Lokos, has been actively working with college representatives to discuss the problems involved with underage drinking and alcohol abuse. They are working in hopes that Four Lokos do not get banned and for people to drink them responsibly. Phusion Projects has put a “WE ID” label on Four Lokos, attempting to stop the sale to underage people.
There is a wide controversy over banning the popular alcoholic beverage. Action has already been taken in several states. Many colleges have banned Four Lokos, even for students of legal drinking age. As of Nov. 4, the state of Michigan became the first to ban alcoholic energy drinks including Four Lokos. This ban included the removal of all alcoholic energy drinks from store shelves within 30 days. The state of Washington has followed in Michigan’s footsteps as of Nov. 18.
“Four Lokos are deceiving,” first-year Bradley Brandenburg said. “People think they are just like a beer, then you drink three of them and you’re passed out.”
One can of Four Loko has seven warnings on it about the product’s alcohol content and the necessity of an ID for purchase. Four Loko drinkers are overlooking the warnings and are taken by surprise with how intoxicated they became in such a short period of time.
Many students say the media highlighting Four Lokos all the time has only driven them to try a Four Loko and find out what the craze is about. A Whittier student who wished to remain anonymous said, “after I drank one Four Loko and no other alcohol, I blacked out and the next morning found out I hooked up with a random kid.” Students choose to drink Four Loko because it gives them energy to stay up late and it highly intoxicates them for a very cheap price. Instead of buying a pack of beer or a bottle of liquor, students can spend about $2.50 and have more energy.
Adults of the legal drinking age may not be able to purchase Four Lokos or alternative alcoholic energy drinks in the future due to media about underage college students. Students have become more aware of the dangers of alcoholic energy beverages since all the media coverage.
Death, hospitalization, blackouts and irresponsible behavior can be attributed to the influence of Four Lokos.