Has Four Loko gone loco?

Four Loko is now the newest addition to teenage hype on a Friday night. The popular energy-plus-alcohol beverage combines caffeine, taurine and guarana with flavors such as cranberry, lemonade and fruit punch. According to the company’s Web site, each 23.5 ounce can is 12 percent alcohol body volume, which is equivalent to three to four beers.

Many Four Loko consumers like the caffeinated malt beverage, said CBS News, “because it gives them a paradoxical alert-but-relaxed feeling.” A student who attends
Wake Forest University found that college students are more likely to suffer alcohol-related injuries drinking Four Loko than absorbing only alcohol.

The potent combination of alcohol and caffeine played a major role in a college party in Washington that sent nine underage students to the hospital. Some of the students were not aware of what was going on, which is often a Four Loko effect after abusing it.

Ryan Broden, a GSU kinesiology major from Oak Cliff, Texas, said, “Four Loko to me is not your average drink. Many people talk about how wasted it tends to get you, but drinking Four Loko is a different type of wasted.”

Both the caffeine and alcohol are diuretics (something capable of increasing the discharge of one’s urine) and mixing them can cause dehydration. A dehydrated body processes alcohol slowly, which interferes with one’s balance, coordination and the ability to regulate body temperature.

Phusion Projects, the Chicago company that manufactures Four Loko, released a statement recently saying it opposes underage drinking but that its products are as safe as other alcoholic drinks.

Attorneys general in Connecticut, New York, California and other states are investigating the potential health risks of the drink, along with the marketing practices used to sell the product.

“The new drink is having our young people black out,” the Rev. William “Rocky” Brown told The Delaware County (Pa.) Daily Times.

The problem is so serious there that the Malt Beverage Distributors Association of Pennsylvania asked its members to voluntarily remove Four Loko from their shelves.

“It’s a nice buzzing feeling to me,” said Jamel Moore, a sophomore computer engineering major from Chicago. He commended Four Loko’s “nice flavors.”

“I really don’t see anything wrong with it; but, if a person abuses Four Loko, then he or she is asking for what they receive in return,” Moore said.

Nearly a dozen students from Central Washington University and four teenagers from White Plains, N.Y., were hospitalized recently after drinking Four Loko. Police at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts said Four Loko was a factor in two recent trespassing arrests. Officials said one of the men arrested had a blood content level of 0.215, which is close to three times the legal limit.

Because varying physical factors – like age, condition, ethnicity, gender, etc. – determine one’s reaction to alcohol, no one can accurately predict every body’s reaction following a shot of liquor, glass of wine or 40-ounce beer.

After observing the effects the drink has, many are inclined to ask if the makers of Four Loko have gone loco.

“I wouldn’t say the drink has gone loco,” said Anthony Curradell, a freshman mass communication major from Charlotte, N.C. “I would definitely give that name to the purchaser of the drink.

“If the company advertises the danger and ingredients of the drink then the consumer is at fault 100 percent, no matter the incident.”

Darius Taylor, a freshman criminal justice major from Anderson, Ala., said, “I don’t drink Four Lokos so I really don’t (delve) into the effect it has on the students and the media.