Four Loko; the new, controversial ”energy caffeinated alcohol drink” will no longer have caffeine, guarana,and taurine in its drink anymore. Four Loko is about to be banned from the shelves in its present form by the Food and Drug Administration. Apparently, caffeine, a stimulant, masks the effects of alcohol which is a central nervous system depressant so it is hard to tell how drunk you are after consuming Four Loko. Is it a death trap for teens?
In my opinion, as a psychiatrist specializing in addiction, the company who put this on the shelves is putting teens at increased risk for injury and death (for their profit!).
Here is a list of recent deaths associated with Four Loko:
There have been several deaths associated with drinking Four Loko including Jason Keiran, a 20 year old, who accidentally shot himself after drinking Four Loko, Courtney Spurry, a 21 year old in Maryland who drove into a tree after consuming Four Loko, and Valeria Rodriguez, a 14 year old in Texas who died in a car crash. Her fourteen year old boyfriend was driving and empty cans of beer and Four Loko were found in the car (a tragic example of underage drinking and driving).
It has been associated with multiple cases of alcohol poisoning (for example: 4 teens in White Plains were treated in May 2010), and multiple teens were found passed out by the police and rushed to the hospital at Central Washington University after a party.
Four Loko has been called “liquid cocaine”, “black-out in a can”, “coke in a can”.
Teenage binge drinking is very common. Teenagers drinking Four Loko “chug” the drink. Four Loko is a 24 ounce can with 12% alcohol- almost triple the amount of alcohol in a 12 ounce light beer combined with the equivalent caffeine of a tall Starbucks coffee.
Four Loko is packaged to attract teens- a bright colored can of grape, lemonade, fruit punch flavoring. Teenage alcoholism often follows teenage binge drinking. Furthermore, teenage binge drinking increases the risk of underage drinking and driving, alcohol poisoning, cognitive damage, attention and memory problems, teen pregnancy, and depression as an adult.
Four Loko is taking advantage of minors! As parents and as a society we should be protecting our youth, not putting them in harms way!
Four Loko is aimed for those who participate in teenage binge drinking; an impulsive group with poor decision making. I would like to see the people responsible for manufacturing this to have all their teens drink Four Loko in front of them and see how well they can defend the drink after seeing the consequences in their own children. Would they let their teen drive after chugging Four Loko?
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