Blackout in a Can: Should Stupid Alcoholic Drinks be Banned?
Seemingly (from the perspective of an underage drinker), the problem with getting really drunk is that you eventually pass out and are unable to enjoy the glory stemming from all of the embarrassing things you could have potentially accomplished while using 1/16th of your brain capacity. This passing out (or as seasoned drinkers like to call it, “blacking out”) holds some benefit for the indulgent consumer – it basically keeps you from consuming more and thus saves your life. While there is notably more to this equation than I am conservatively outlining, many young, unseasoned, drinkers have made it through the night with nothing more than some projectile vomiting and a hangover. And of course, there are those, well past the age of consent, who continue to drink with abandon and find some perverse and sustained glory in their inebriated antics. That said, alcohol related accidents and assaults are the source of much of the death and mayhem that occur on a daily basis out there, and everyone from concerned parents to religious leaders have been speaking out against the stuff for hundreds of years – still it is widely available.
Enter a, not so new, brand of caffeinated alcohol drinks that promise to keep your alcohol buzz on while keeping you sufficiently buzzed. Now the concept of mixing caffeine and alcohol is, at least, decades old, and was popularized with the ever-repellent Red Bull. Red Bull and Vodka became a kind of “go to” drink for those who enjoyed being sloppy and jittery at the same time. These are the same people who make screaming at cab drivers a nighttime sport and are of the belief that Rave culture is still as relevant as it was 20 years ago. But Red Bull is relatively pedestrian compared to the growing popularity of the caffeinated alcoholic beverage that goes by the name of Four Loco. Best described by Seattle Weekly columnist Jason Sheehan, this disgusting, rainbow-colored malt liquor juiced with caffeine, taurine, and guarana is ” a drink that was already wickedly popular among college students, idiots, problem drinkers and those who want their vomit to look like a rainbow. ” The amount of alcohol and caffeine contained in a single can of Four Loco is about equivalent to about a six-pack of beer and five cups of coffee. And needless to say, this drink is huge on college campuses right now.
Another place where Four Loco is also huge is all over the Internet and as a talking point for every concerned parent, school administrator, and politician desperately trying to ban, or at least regulate, the stuff. This firestorm comes after dozens of Central Washington University students got sick and nine were hospitalized this past week after admitting they had been drinking Four Loko. Now many college students (as I had noted above) are pretty much always getting sick from over consumption of alcohol, but the difference here is that with the potent combination of caffeine and alcohol, these drinkers (not limited to students and teens) can consume so much more alcohol before their body gives out. In addition, because of the caffeine and its stimulating effect, those that are already drunk from Four Loco have less of a grasp on how drunk they actually are. This leads to drinkers feeling confident that they can “manage” and countless more blackouts and fatalities (as reported, the caffeinated boozers are four times more likely to want to drive home).
Several states are considering outlawing Four Loco and at least two universities have banned it from campus while the Food and Drug Administration reviews its safety But really, the rainbow-colored elixir is already out of the bag, and if Four Loco goes the way of Absinthe, won’t there be something else just as nefarious and revolting to replace it? Aren’t there worse offenders out there that we have yet to eradicate, like crack cocaine and Jägermeister?