ELLENSBURG, Wash. – Sugary, high-alcohol energy drinks that are popular with college students who want to get drunk quickly and cheaply came under renewed scrutiny Monday as investigators announced that nine freshmen had been hospitalized after drinking them at an off-campus party.
Several states are considering outlawing the drinks and at least two universities have banned them from campus while the Food and Drug Administration reviews their safety.
Caffeine and booze have been mixed for years. This isn't new. Back when I was in school, it was the old fashion rum and coke, which was my favorite on gameday. There's also Jack and Coke, Irish Coffee, 7up and Seagrums, and countless other concoctions out there.
Four Loko comes in several varieties, including fruit punch and blue raspberry. A 23.5-ounce can sells for about $2.50 and has an alcohol content of 12 percent, comparable to four beers, according to the company's website.
Health advocates say the caffeine in the drink can also suspend the effects of alcohol consumption, allowing a person to consume more than usual.
"It gets you really drunk really fast and it gives you a lot of energy so you're not going to be laying down and sleeping," said 18-year-old CWU freshman Hyatt Van Cotthem of Everett, Wash., who said he's tried the beverage but doesn't drink it because the taste is "nasty." He didn't attend the party.
I agree that stuff is nasty, but extra regulation isn't going to do anything. This stuff is about twice as strong as a beer. It's like a malt liquor or a stronger Steel Reserve which was big for about one weekend when I was at State. It's not as strong as what else is out there. Do you want them all to switch to Bacardi 151 and Coke? Jagr shots?
The way to combat drink related hospital visits in colleges is easier said that done. Age. Maturity. Good decision making. Experience. What isn't needed is more anti-freedom regulations which raise the curiosity of others. I never heard of this Four Loko stuff. I'm not that interested because it sounds nasty tasting, but why make it famous? I'm also well past the age to drink just to get drunk, and can't recover from hangovers as easily as I used to. It's not a forbidden fruit anymore. I'm much more content with one or two Mackinac Pale Ales from Michigan Brewing in Webberville and ending it there.
For about 15 years, it's been the age of zero tolerance. Zero sense. Everyone knows about MIP's and the fact it leaves a criminal record. Misdemeanor. About 90% of the people I know who were 18-20 drank at some time or another. The other 10% didn't drink not because of legalities (unless you count religious aspects). They just didn't drink. You have thousands of people in one city committing misdemeanors every weekend, and hundreds getting fined, licenses suspended (even not driving), probation, court costs, lawyer fees, and good people getting nailed and screwing up their lives for not evil, but stupidity. It doesn't teach respect for the law, but contempt.
The best thing we can teach those younger is to relate our experiences and why we no longer do some of the dumb things we used to do, and hope not everyone learns the hard way.