Dangerous Drinks

Last weekend, Central Washington University students learned first-hand the danger of caffeinated “alcopops,” when several were hospitalized after consuming the beverage Four Loko.  Four Loko, sometimes referred to as “blackout in a can,” contains the alcohol and caffeine equivalent of six beers and two cups of coffee, respectively. It is marketed and purchased for the sole purpose of acute intoxication.

We view products such as Four Loko as unwelcome contributors to the culture of dangerous drinking that is pervasive among young people, both on and off college campuses.

6 Responses to “Dangerous Drinks”

  1. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    I’m not entirely sure where I stand on the issue of a federal agency prohibiting the production of caffeinated alcohol beverages. For one, they can be tasty. Just this past Friday, I had the Espresso Stout from Oakshire.

    But beyond that, drinking alcohol was already illegal for the under-21 students who were hospitalized. When prohibition isn’t working, is stronger prohibition the answer?

    Maybe, if you argue that, had the beverages never been on the market, these students wouldn’t have even had the option to procure them (illegally). Of course, Red Bull and Vodka has been in vogue for 10 years or more. FourLoko should just produce a non-caffeinated alcoholic beverage, and a separate non-alcoholic energy drink, and sell them side by side. Maybe they could even package the 2-cans in a 2-pack?

    So, if prohibition is the answer, then we must prohibit the individual components, lest someone mix their Redbull and Vodka. So which component are we going to ban outright, alcohol or energy drinks? How about both?

    Counter argument: by packaging them together, FourLoko put the idea of drinking both caffeine and alcohol in their little child minds. They couldn’t resist.

    Sarcasm aside, let’s re-word that as less of a strawman: By combining alcohol and caffeine in a pre-packaged form, we are promoting the idea that it is relatively safe to consume the two together. Which it is…unless you are an inexperienced drinking who is uneducated on the effects that alcohol and caffeine have on the body and decide to drink a bunch of it.

    Does prohibition encourage experience or limit it? Does prohibition encourage education or make it irrelevant because “all you need to know is that it’s illegal”?

    We don’t drink nail polish even though it’s legal to purchase because we know its bad for us. We don’t drink anti-freeze for the same reason. Educate drinkers and they won’t mix chemicals that can harm them (unless they are dumb which many drinker are, especially the more they drink, I grant you).

    Prohibiting alcoholic energy drinks is a non-solution, at least that’s my stance, but I would love further discussion.

    EDWIN: I don’t have any authority here, but as a fellow community member, please don’t post anything unless you are willing to participate in an on-going discussion. Hit-and-run commenting doesn’t present a very positive view of our community.

  2. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    Marshall, I came across this quote by Samuel Adams.
    “It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

    Do you think this applies to us?

  3. Marshall Guthrie Says:

    Well, the term “irate” certainly has taken on a negative-connotation over the years since the namesake of the Boston Beer Company used it, but I do hope we embody the “tireless”-ness he speaks of.

    However, I don’t know how much of a “minority” we are. I haven’t seen any public opinion polls on the matter, but I would wager that as the amount of discourse around the issue increases, so does the support for lowering the drinking age. In other words, I believe that supporters of increased education and openness have the more persuasive argument.

    Now, if you consider the purpose of “Choose Responsibility”, to encourage debate around the issue, I would think we are in the majority. That is, that most people would like to talk about what is the healthiest choice we can make four our citizens, regardless of their age, with respect to alcohol consumption and regulation.

    There will always be those on both sides of the issue who stick staunchly to their beliefs and cannot engage in debate with a dispassionate and open mind. I believe those folks are the true minority.

  4. Anthony Rhodes Says:

    I see your point.

  5. Edwin Says:

    The drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with its important components: education and licensing for alcohol. The government should regulate highly caffeinated alcoholic bevarages of high alcoholic content in a non-ageist fashion. To do this, alcohol per volume would have to decreased in respect to the amount of caffeine that is in each bottle of drinks like Four Loko. Universities and colleges should discourage the consumption of these drinks, whether by use of campaigns or alcohol education courses.

  6. Marshall Guthrie Says:


    So in your opinion the problem is not the combination of alcohol and caffeine, but rather, the ratio? That by increasing the caffeine proportionate to the alcohol, this would help solve the problem?

    I’m interested to read your response.