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Four Loko bans sweeping across country, campus to keep drinkers safe

Originally published December 3, 2010

The alcoholic energy drink Four Loko has been banned in colleges and across the country, but it is unknown how dangerous the beverage truly is.

“The danger in a Four Loko is really about how much caffeine is in it,” said Dr. Robert Rozner of Hobson Meadows Family Medicine in Naperville. “You don’t know exactly how it’s going to affect you as compared to everyone else.”

Rozner said Four Loko might not be as dangerous as the media is making it seem.

“Who knows if someone is going to go out and drink a few cups of coffee before they start drinking alcohol?” he said. “That may actually be a lot more dangerous than drinking a Four Loko. I don’t think there have been very many deaths from the Four Lokos thus far, especially compared to deaths from drinking alcohol without caffeine or even from doing drugs.”

A student who wished to remain anonymous said he doesn’t understand why Four Loko needs to be banned.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s like any other kind of alcohol – it’s your decision if you want to consume it, not the government’s,” he said. “I think people should be more educated on the risks of mixing energy drinks and alcohol in general, not just Four Lokos. They should know of the risks involved with these drinks rather than have the product completely banned.”

The student said he has tried a Four Loko but hasn’t finished a whole can.

“I’ve had a little of it before, and it certainly has an interesting effect,” he said. “I felt drunk and hyper at the same time, which is not how I usually feel when I’m drinking alcohol without the caffeine.”

Another student, who also wanted to remain anonymous, said she has had Four Lokos on several occasions.

“Four Lokos aren’t my favorite thing to drink, but they’re pretty cheap so I’ll get them sometimes,” she said. “When I do drink them, they’re usually not the only kind of alcohol I’ll drink in a night. I’ll have other stuff too. When I drink them, I feel a really strange combination of being drunk and wide awake at the same time.”

The student said she was surprised to find out Four Lokos were being banned in several states and colleges.

“I had no idea Fours were being banned, and especially in so many places,” she said. “I think it’s a little ridiculous. People should just be responsible about how much they drink and what they drink.”

Studies need to be done on the effects of Four Loko, Rozner said.

“It seems to be one of those cases where people feel the need to point their fingers at something, and they’ve chosen to point them at Four Loko,” he said. “However, nothing about the dangers of this drink as compared to others like it has really been proven, and I think some studies need to be done to clear up this controversy.”

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