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The Four Loko Epidemic

Four Loko has been in the news a lot lately, bringing attention to the current craze over alcoholic caffeinated beverages. I’ve only ever had one personal experience with a similar drink. One of my cousins bought a can of “Joose” for me because I was too tired to go out and party. “This will get you amped up,” he promised. The large, colorful can looks like a benign mix between Monster and Arizona Tea so I began to drink it without asking questions.

Wrong move. That night, I was wired in the worst way. My heart and mind were racing but my body wanted to move in slow motion. I felt trapped. That night, I swore off of those drinks. It couldn’t be safe, I thought.

As the craze spread across the country, more and more information regarding Four Loko and its counterparts started to surface. The drinks are between 9 and 12% alcohol by volume. Making one of these drinks the alcoholic equivalent of a four to six beers. Add that with the fact that each can holds the same amount of caffeine as two to five cups of coffee and you have to wonder how these drinks made it to the shelves in the first place. They’ve been marketed as fun, tasty ways to get drunk quickly and party all night. It’s also dirt cheap at less than $3 a can.

But experts say that the interaction that the combination of caffeine and alcohol causes in the brain is a dangerous one. That the caffeine impairs a person’s ability to sense that they are actually drunk. Four Loko, perhaps for this reason, has been called “Blackout in a can”.

In some stores, the Four Loko is even in the same beverage cooler as the Monster and Rockstar. Some believe that the answer is moderation and control but most kids don’t understand that these drinks are dangerous. I have to ask why this particular brew was not flagged by the FDA as dangerous in the first place. Now several college campuses have banned the drink because we all know that bans and warnings after the fact actually work.

What do you guys think of Four Loko?


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