The name, Four Loko energy drink, appears innocent enough. This “energy” drink, however, is anything but innocent. Four Loko is a beverage that is quickly becoming a problem on campuses nationwide.
The drink consists of 156 milligrams of caffeine (the equivalent of two strong cups of coffee), 60 grams of sugar, and is 12% alcohol (the equivalent of six bottles of light beer). Because of its energy drink appearance, and due to the fact it is not FDA approved, many gas stations and other such places have been selling Four Loko to students as young as 18. It sells for $2.50 a can, so it is a cheap, easy drink to get a hold of which can be quite the draw-in to college students.
The drink does not taste like alcohol, so many students drink more than one at a time, unaware of the damage they are doing to their bodies. Also, it takes students longer to realize how much alcohol they are taking in their system because of the caffeine. Then, when they crash as the caffeine leaves their body, the potential for blacking out from the alcohol strengthens. Compared to other alcohol drinks, one 23.5 oz can of Four Loko contains as much alcohol as 4.7 shots of 40 proof vodka, 4.7 bottles of beer, and 4.7 glasses of red wine. Consumption of this drink can lead to alcohol poisoning and heart attacks. Also, because of the amount of alcohol, it is highly dangerous should students decide to drive while under the influence.
The drink is being taken off the shelves on December 13th, so students around the nation are busy stocking up on Four Loko before they cannot get it anymore. This does not mean, though, that just because it is off the shelves it will cease to be a problem. The company that makes Four Loko, called Phusion, has come out with a statement saying they will be removing caffeine from the drink. They are currently being sued by a family who claims their son committed suicide as a result of drinking Four Loko. Jennifer Busch, a member of the Peer Health Educators, says, “We’re trying to educate the campus as much as we can. Four Loko is a dangerous drug.”
Another dangerous drug, one that is more of a problem here on campus than Four Loko, is K2. K2 is synthetic marijuana that is sprayed with JWH-018 or JWII-073 to act like the chemical THC in marijuana. Some see it as just a form of “incense”, not realizing that this drug is 10 times more dangerous than marijuana and has been causing deaths among teens and college students.
Side effects from this drug can include vomiting, nausea, headaches, anxiety, elevated heart rate, confusion, insomnia, seizures, and death. The package is even labeled with “Not for human consumption.” More information on K2 will be included in an upcoming article.
Every student should be aware of the consequences of these drugs. Presentations have been given by the Peer Health Educators on campus in order to raise awareness of the dangers associated with Four Loko and K2; their information was helpful in completing this article. There will be more presentations in the future concerning these drugs as new information about them comes to light.