|Four Loko still popular even with harmful risks|
|Written by Erin Hogg, Daily Vidette Staff Writer|
|Tuesday, 09 November 2010 21:23|
A popular alcoholic energy drink, Four Loko, has recently come under scrutiny for its dangerous mix of caffeine and alcohol, according to a New York Times article.
Four Loko, which is produced by the company Four, contains as much caffeine as a cup of coffee and has an alcohol content of 12 percent. While mixing alcohol and energy drinks is not a new idea, this mix seems to be surprising health and college officials, according to the New York Times article.
Students at several colleges in the United States, including Ramapo College in New Jersey and Central Washington University in Washington, have seen students end up in emergency rooms from alcohol poisoning due to drinking Four Loko, according to the article.
“Drinking a mix of caffeine and alcohol is essentially combining a stimulant and a depressant. The caffeine can cover up the symptoms of alcohol intoxication, but does not change the blood level of the alcohol, so it becomes easier to drink too much alcohol,” Dr. Jean Swearingen, medical director at Student Health Services, said.
Drinking a mix of an energy drink and alcohol can also lead to poor decision-making and injury to the consumer.
“At least one study demonstrated a two-fold increased risk of injury, need for medical attention, or poor decision-making (unwanted sexual contacts, causing injury to others, and riding with an impaired driver) with use of these drinks,” Swearingen said.
Sid Sidhu, owner of Midtown Grocery and Liquor and 707 Food and Liquor in Normal, explained there has been a rise in sales of Four Loko products at 707. 707 Liquors began carrying Four Loko around five months ago, Sidhu said.
“Due to the publicity of Four Lokos in the media, we’ve seen the sale of Four Lokos double,” Sidhu said.
Schools are beginning to ban Four Loko sales. Peter Mercer, the president of Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J. went so far as to ban energy drinks that combine caffeine and alcohol this month after six students were taken to the hospital after drinking Four Loko, according to the article.
The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has also banned Four Loko and similar drinks.
“If Illinois State does ban Four Loko, we will take it off our shelves. However, if the ban is only partial, we will continue to carry it,” he said.
While no deaths have been reported from drinking Four Loko or other products, but Swearingen explained the mix of caffeine and alcohol could prove fatal.
“Due to the possible increased alcohol levels when using these drinks, serious consequences, including death, can certainly occur,” she said.
However, because of their recent popularity, Swearingen explained several precautions students should take to ensure their safety when drinking Four Loko.
“As in any circumstance when using alcohol or other substances, make a conscious decision to avoid excess. Alternate alcoholic drinks with non-alcoholic drinks. Go to parties with friends and agree to watch out for one another. Choose one friend to stay sober to be the designated driver,” she said.