Four Loko energy drink drives doctors, campuses crazy

Posted by Adam Cohen

A recent New York Times article has confirmed what many of us already suspected: the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko is terrible for you.

That appetizing, iced tea look alike in a can is actually being described as liquid cocaine by some. While that may sound like overkill, doctors do say that it is a dangerous drink that often leads to blackouts and sickness.

Four Loko is produced by Phusion Products LLC. of Chicago, Illinois. It comes in nine flavors, is sold in 47 states and has gained popularity quickly with college and high school students over the past year.

In fact, this month 32 college students were hospitalized due to consumption of alcohol, and at least nine of these incidents involved Four Loko. At least one college has banned Four Loko on-campus after numerous hospitalizations.

Four Loko comes in 23.5 ounce cans full of malt liquor and fabricated energy. The "four" in its name comes from its four main ingredients: caffeine, taurine, guarana and alcohol. Sounds tasty.

But seriously, this drink sounds toxic. And coincidentally this beverage can also be a cause of toxic drinking, which means consuming so much alcohol that the drinker passes out. While this seems unlikely, as the drink contains only 12 percent alcohol, it is the other ingredients that are the silent problem.

The caffeine in Four Loko — which amounts to about as much as a cup of coffee — is a stimulant which counters the effects of alcohol as a depressant. This means that the normal depressant effects of alcohol, which often make the drinker tired and less interested in continuing to drink, are counteracted by the caffeine stimulant, which keeps the drinker awake and prone to drinking more without feeling the effects. As a result, it is easier to overdose and become a victim of toxic drinking.

Students on any college campus tend to be concerned with saving money, and the $3-4 price tag on a can of Four Loko can be very appealing.

Between The Hunt last weekend and the upcoming Moorebid Ball this weekend, there has been and will certainly be a good amount of students enjoying alcoholic beverages, and Four Lokos will likely make an appearance.

A ban of the drink on-campus may be overkill but I would like to offer a warning against Four Loko.

In fact, I do not recommended drinking Four Loko, consuming large amounts, drinking quickly or mixing any other caffeinated beverages with alcohol.

Four Loko is dangerous, but so is any irresponsible consumption of alcohol. Do embarrassing photo booth pictures from last year's Moorebid ring a bell? How about hook-ups with misidentified, costumed persons? Right.

Stay classy Skidmore, and have a safe and fun weekend.

Adam Cohen is a junior Peer Health Educator who knows more about your body than you do

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