It’s safe to say that at many times of the year, particularly during that dreaded time known as midterm week(s), the veins of your average Stanford student run with the fluid of energy drinks instead of normal red blood cells. It is also common knowledge that Monster, Rock Star, and the classic Red Bull are all highly respected members of the established energy drink family. But then . . . a new one came to town. Its name is Four Loko, and while it may seem like the life of the party at first, several hospitalized college students can attest to the truly sketchy and dangerous reality of Four Loko.
According to a recent article in the New York Times, Four Loko is “a fruit-flavored malt beverage that has an alcohol content of 12 percent and as much caffeine as a cup of coffee”. I mean, alcohol and caffeine are strong enough on their own, so whoever came up with the idea of combining them and then marketing the result must have been “loko” indeed. The temptation to indulge in several of the apparent party-in-a-can drinks may be strong for us overworked college students, but resist! Doctors have targeted this drink as dangerous on the grounds that the caffeine actually masks the effects of alcohol-induced intoxication. In other words, instead of feeling sleepy (the body’s natural reaction to alcohol), the caffeine tricks the drinker into feeling awesome – awesome enough to keep drinking more.
Four Loko has actually been banned from Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey, after several students ended up in hospital emergency rooms with high levels of alcohol poisoning. A similar situation occurred at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, as well as at various universities across the U.S. Lawmakers in several states are working to ban the drinks (which, by the way, haven’t even been approved by the FDA), but no legislation has actually been passed yet.
Moral of the story, kids: be careful what you drink. Don’t mistake brightly colored cans for a fun, safe time. And don’t end up in a hospital emergency room. It’s just not good.