Mixing alcohol and caffeine is not a new concept, after all, rum and Coke has been around for a long time. But you can now buy pre-mixed alcohol and caffeine concoctions which are far more dangerous. These drinks have been nicknamed “blackout in a can” and have rap songs written about them for a reason. At the present moment four states have banned them and the leader of the pack, “Four Loko” is the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Mixing large amounts of caffeine (a stimulant) with alcohol is all the rage on college campuses, but it is risky business because it allows someone to drink for longer periods of time, masking alcohols natural sedative effects. Consequently, more alcohol is consumed and bypasses the body’s natural defenses to get drowsy and pass out after drinking too much alcohol. The caffeine in these beverages causes students to ingest dangerously high amounts of alcohol leading to blackouts, serious health consequences, hospitalizations and even death. Last week Washington joined four other states in restricting the sale of Four Loko after a group of college students wound up in the hospital with near-fatal blood alcohol levels after drinking this at a party.
The manufacturer has not disclosed how much caffeine is in the malt liquor Four Loko and it is not required on the Nutrition Facts label, but it is estimated at about the same amount in a six-pack of Coke or one tall Starbucks coffee. The alcohol content (12%) in one fruity tasting 24oz drink is equivalent to about 4 beers or one bottle of wine. And the cost is only about $2.50---less than a cup of Starbucks coffee.
College students are risk takers, but unfortunately, one single mistake can be deadly. One study conducted by the University of Florida, found that students who mixed caffeine and alcohol thought they were capable of driving more often than those who drank non-caffeinated alcoholic drinks. This is another example of caffeine masking the effects of the alcohol.
Parents, please educate your teens and college students about the harmful effects of Four Loko. If you have educated them to drink in moderation and always have a DD (designated driver), then educate them on the health effects of mixing alcohol and caffeine.