Four Loko Gains Attention


by Grant Rodgers & Angela Niesz

After frightening events nationwide, college and health officials have a new threat on their radar: The alcoholic energy drink called Four Loko.

At Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., the administration has banned the drink after the hospitalization of six students who drank multiple cans, according to the Associated Press. It seems for students that the opposites within the drink, caffeine and alcohol, attract and cause some serious consequences.

“I think it’s scary as the dickens,” Rita Audlehelm, director of student health services said. “You’re combining two different drugs. Alcohol’s a depressant and caffeine is a stimulant.”

Indeed, Four Loko, sold in a 23.5 oz can, contains as much alcohol as four to five standard drinks, weighing in at 12 percent alcohol by volume, according to information from Health Services. The beverage offers drinkers the caffeine equivalency of three to four cans of Coke.

“This drug fools you,” Audlehelm said. “What you feel (when drinking) is ‘I’m not there yet, so I’m going to keep drinking’…when you dump two opposites in your body, something’s going to give.”

What ends up failing after inhibitions is often the safety of the consumer, with some reporting walking blackouts, heart palpitations, anxiety and the possibility of alcohol poisoning.

“It’s terrifically dehydrating,” Audlehelm said. “The other thing that people don’t realize when they drink is the calories that come on board (600-800 per can).”

Despite media attention, it seems Four Loko remains popular. Junior Cory Keasey, who has admittedly tried, but is not an avid user of Four Loko, explained that though students know the risks, one factor will keep them buying.

“It’s a cheap alternative to higher priced alcohol,” Keasey said. “Also, it has the advantage of being pre-mixed and in a can, so all students have to do is crack it open and drink.”

Keasey says another appealing draw is the trendy and colorful can design.

“The colorful design gives the drink somewhat of a false pretense of being safe,” Keasey said.

While Simpson administrators have not yet considered the possibility of a ban, Health Services and Campus Security are working together towards an informational campaign aimed at preventing situations like those at other schools.

“All the discussion we’ve had so far have been aimed at getting more information,” Chris Frerichs, director of security, said. “We are then going to get that out to the campus community.”

Efforts to educate students include a possible gallery event offering information on the alcoholic beverage. Students can assume, as with all alcohol, the key factor is responsibility.

“If you’re going to choose to drink, do it responsibly,” Frerichs said. “Is drinking a Four Loko necessarily responsible? One (drink) does not always equal one when you’re looking at the size and alcohol content.”

Keasey echoed Frerichs’s statement, hoping that students will exercise caution to avoid negative outcomes or a campus-wide ban.

“The people that drink Four Loko need to understand that it is not similar to other alcohol,” Keasey said. “A person cannot binge drink on it.”

With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the drink. The future of Four Loko is unknown.