He Said She said: The debate over Four Lokos

Tyler Roberts | Staff Writer / Eliza Dillard | Staff Writer



He Said: Four Loko should be expelled from schools

Tyler Roberts | Staff Writer

Blackouts and hangovers are nothing new to college students, but the malt beverage Four Loko deemed “blackout in a can” poses a much greater threat to students’ health than other alcoholic beverages.

With a can that boasts an alcohol content of 11 percent and ingredients that can be found in the most potent energy drinks, students are excited to try Four Loko. It comes in four different flavors and is packaged like an energy drink. The low price is also enticing. Students can get more bang for their buck with Four Loko. A bang is certainly what they will get, but it may be more than they what they bargained for.

According to Harvard’s University Health Services, one 23.5-ounce can contains the equivalent of six standard servings of alcohol and five cups of coffee. The average adult should consume less than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. Four Loko does not disclose the caffeine to its consumers, however similar energy drinks contain 80 to 125 milligrams in just one can. Also, Four Loko contains 60 grams of sugar per can. Aside from the alcohol content, students need to be wary of the adverse effects such a drink can have on their health.

Four Loko is now receiving nationwide scrutiny and may soon be banned from distributor shelves. This ban would be put in place out of necessity to keep the harmful drink out of consumers’ hands, much to the dismay of Four Loko enthusiasts.

A ban on Four Loko is not unwarranted. With dozens of hospitalizations, reports of deadly toxicity levels and dangerous levels of caffeine and alcohol, it comes as no surprise that law makers and school administrators are concerned about Four Loko.

The issue, however, is not whether Four Loko is conducive to student health; rather, the controversy surrounding the beverage is due to the overwhelming reports of blackouts experienced by those who consume the drink. In September, 23 students were hospitalized after drinking Four Loko at a party in New Jersey. Nine more students from Central Washington University were hospitalized just last month after consuming the drink. If such reports continue to follow Four Loko, then there should be no argument as to whether the drink is safe for consumption or not.

Normally I would say that students should take responsibility for their actions. I do not believe, however, that students are in control of their actions when drinking Four Loko. The caffeine content keeps the drinker alert which prevents them from feeling as drunk, even though they are consuming large amounts of alcohol. For this reason, the consumer’s blood-alcohol content can rise to dangerous levels without the person even feeling it.

Authorities should ban Four Loko because it is dangerous to consumers. The combination of alcohol and caffeine inhibit consumers from making responsible drinking decisions. The drink should not be banned because kids are extremely “messed up” after consuming it. Instead a ban should be placed on the drink because it is dangerous and severely impairs judgment.


She Said: People go Loco Over Four Loko and Other Similar Drinks

Eliza Dillard | Staff Writer

These days, the popular partygoer’s drink of choice is a cheap can of Four Loko, the caffeinated alcoholic beverage commonly referred to as “blackout in a can” or “liquid cocaine.” However, fans of the drink may want to run out to the nearest Scotchman and stock up now because states around the country are beginning to ban the drink.

As of Nov. 5, all caffeinated alcoholic beverages, including Four Loko, were banned from the state of Michigan. After dozens of college students in Washington State were hospitalized from the drink last month, heated debates have taken place about whether or not caffeinated alcoholic beverages pose a serious health risk. Apparently Michigan thinks so, and I wouldn’t be surprised if other states begin to follow their lead.

Although I’m not praising caffeinated alcoholic drinks, I think banning these types of drinks may be a bit of an overreaction and won’t solve any sort of problem. Basically, caffeinated alcoholic drinks are just alcohol mixed with an energy drink. Banning the outcome of these two liquids won’t do much good because energy drinks are sold everywhere. Depending on how much you consume, by mixing an energy drink with alcohol you can get the same effects as you would with Four Loko or other alcoholic beverages similar to this.

It’s true that overconsumption of caffeinated alcoholic drinks is dangerous, but overconsumption of any type of alcoholic beverage is dangerous. Obviously if someone drinks multiple cans of Four Loko, they are going to have some issues. However, I think it should be one’s personal choice to decide if he or she wants to drink beverages such as Four Loko. It should be left to the individual to know his or her limits and to drink in moderation.

Since the discussion of Four Loko has caused such uproar and been publicized so much, I think people are now more educated on the results of mixing a stimulant such as caffeine with a depressant like alcohol. If people are more aware of the risks, they might be less likely to consume large quantities of caffeinated alcoholic beverages.

Whether or not people agree or disagree, the fact is that the banning of caffeinated alcoholic beverages isn’t going to change anything. Red Bull and alcohol are still separately sold in grocery stores and gas stations, so people will still be able to get the same buzz that they desire. Unless there is a ban on energy drinks all together, this issue is not going away.