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Four Loko fears run rampant across college campuses

Four Loko
(Gordon King/AP/Yakima Herald-Republic)

"Blackout in a Can," "Liquid Cocaine," "Alcopop:" Four Loko has gone from college drink du jour to national headline after reports that the caffeinated, malted beverage hospitalized nine freshmen in Washington state this month.

Several states are considering outlawing the drink and at least two universities have banned it from campus while the Food and Drug Administration reviews its safety, the Associated Press reports.

The drink stems from the tradition of mixing the caffeinated drink Red Bull with vodka, which became popular with young drinkers over the past decade thanks to the mixture staving off the sleepiness usually attributed to drinking alcoholic beverages.

The only problem with counteracting that pesky drowsiness? It stops drinkers from the body's natural shut-off moment, letting people consume far more alcohol than they would without the caffeine supplements.

The nine students who were hospitalized had blood alcohol levels ranging from 0.12 percent to 0.35 percent. A blood-alcohol concentration of 0.30 percent is considered potentially lethal.

Four Loko markets its brand in brightly colored cans, similar to non-alcoholic beverages such as Arizona Tea, and in fruity flavors, such as Lemon Lime and Watermelon. The 23.5-ounce can has an alcohol content of 12 percent, about the equivalent of four beers, the Four Loko Web site states. It sells for about $2.50 a can, making for a very cheap buzz.

The Four Loko company has also released a statement condemning reports that place the blame for the hospitalization on the company. "While our product is mentioned only twice in the 44-page police report, hard liquor, vodka, rum or other alcohol is mentioned at least 19 times; beer is mentioned at least 3 times; and illegal drugs or roofies are mentioned at least 14 times."

An entry on Urban Dictionary states, "Four Loko got its name because it sends the person who consumed it into FOUR STAGES OF CRAZY."

By Melissa Bell  | October 26, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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How about we teach responsible drinking instead of banning something?

Posted by: RodVA | October 26, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Alcohol and caffeine doesn't sound like a good combination. College students should know better. What happened to the students in Washington should be a warning to other students. I don't think the company should be blamed (although having the equivalent of 6 beers is too much in a can.) As for banning the drink, not long ago I answered a poll on this Personally I think that students are responsible for themselves. If they want to drink themselves silly, let them because if they don't learn from their own mistakes it is nobody's fault.

Posted by: ElsieW1n | October 26, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Responsible drinking? there's a novel idea. I'm a parent and a mother. I don't see other parents teaching responsible "anything". Some are drinking, partying with their kids. In quiet, middle class America. (Whatever that has become).
I find it amazing that three Ohio State University grads couldn't find anything better to do with their education. I don't see them as entrepreneurs. I see opportunistic and reckless,conscience-less behavior.
Some substances are dangerous when combined. Does politically correctness and fear of being "too soft" stop us from having something called "blackout in a can" taken off the shelves. The boys must have some other products they can market.

Posted by: mboots2784 | October 26, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Lets face it, if we tried to legalize alcoholic drinks today, they would never get past the FDA...well, except for the lobbyists hammering. How about we legalize marijuana, regulate it, and feel better that at least it is natural and not addictive?

Posted by: tootsie11 | October 26, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Here's the funny part. If you take caffeine and put it into an over the counter drug like No-Doz, then FDA gets to regulate it. If you take caffeine and put it into an "energy" drink, then the FDA DOESN'T get to regulate it.

By the way, energy drinks have been banned during games and practices for HS athletes in VA. Energy drinks should be banned from sale to kids until 18.

Mixing alcohol and caffeine in a drink should be illegal.

Posted by: rjma1 | October 26, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

And these drinks are different from a rum-and-coke how?

Posted by: BalancingAct1 | October 26, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

As a college student, I gotta say people are being too critical of the drink. This drink is no different than rum and coke or the red bull and vodka shots. It isn't the drink's fault that those college students were hospitalized, it's theirs They were the one's who were reckless, drinking obscene amounts of alcohol and thus causing the hospitalization. The reality is, my generation and those that come after need to learn self-control and responsibility. yes, there needs to be consequence and there is a lesson to be learned, but it isn't banning the drink and condemning the makers. It's just so typical of us to blame everyone but ourselves.

Posted by: cvissing | October 27, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I Think That Everybodyy should Be Accountablee For Their Own Actions if They Wanteedd To Mixx A Drink The Is Alreadyy 12% Alchol Thats Theyy Faultt i Lovee That Drinkk

Posted by: hudsonluv829 | October 27, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

From another WaPo article: "Sugary, high-alcohol energy drinks that are popular with college students who want to get drunk quickly - - "

Whether or not the banning of such drinks be considered, it is pitiful that college students have the crazy notion of having to drink alcohol and/or use drugs of any form to have a good time.

We have failed as a society if the idea of binge drinking and getting drunk quickly is seen as anything remotely close to normal. And never consider the potential damage to mind and body.

The cost and suffering caused by the reckless use of alcohol is beyond measurement in the loss of life, serious injuries, lost jobs, broken homes, and addiction caused by irresponsibility.

Someone above mentioned "self-control and responsibility." An effort can be made to teach such virtues together with common sense. But it is the individual that has to learn.

Posted by: keepthefaith | October 27, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

A company who designs fruit flavored "black outs" at 2.50 a can is not targeting adults. These are attempts to rob our yet developed frontal lobe youth and this kind of company is a lawsuit on ice.

Posted by: eperry7 | October 27, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

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