Sunday, August 22, 2010

Four Loko: A very bad idea...

After so long of review processing forms for DUI offenses it is always surprising when a drink is mentioned that I've never heard of. Obviously, this leads to further investigation. How is there a drink I don't know about? I must learn more!

This was the case the other day with the drink Four Loko. For those like myself just learning about this drink, Four Loko is a 24 ounce energy drink containing 12% alcohol.

Yes, let me repeat that.

A 24 ounce serving of 12% alcohol.

To put that into perspective a regular beer is typically a 12 ounce can of 5% alcohol. Certainly those too can be served in 24 ounce cans, but they still only contain 5% alcohol. Using Widmark, for a woman my size, if I were to consume an entire Four Loko, my blood alcohol concentration would be 0.167. For one drink...

Now, obviously this is assuming no elimination, so in reality it wouldn't be that high. However, in order for a woman my size to drink one Four Loko and remain below the legal limit for driving, I would have to consume this drink over the span of SIX hours.

The drink comes in a variety of fruit flavors and although the website does have a very nice "drink responsibly" section, lets be honest: A 24 once carbonated beverage in a pop top implies one serving, whether that's what is on the label or not, we know that to be true. Someone buying a 24 ounce soda would not drink one serving and then leave the drink to lose it's carbonation for later consumption.

Additionally the drink contains caffeine and all the other typical ingredients in a standard energy drink.  Here's a nice description of drinking the beverage.It's essentially a Red Bull and Vodka on crack.

The drink is starting to get some press. However, in my opinion they are focusing on the wrong things. The press is the typical press that has continued since the start of Red Bull and vodka drinks, the combination of alcohol and caffeine.

The real danger of Four Loko is back to basics. It's a 24 ounce serving of 12 % alcohol!

Now just to make all of you out there do a Homer Simpson impression, here's the best news: The drink is sold for $2.50 at 7 Eleven. Pause a minute and think about that. A $2.50 bottle of wine, with stimulants served in a one serving size container. In Europe, it will even contain absinthe for you. Although we could debate the pharmacological activity of today's wormwood, this addition does seem to just give the drink a little something else.

My prediction is that we're going to be seeing this more in driving under the influence cases and more ominously, it will be incorporated into the college scene. This in itself is a scary thing. College, where funneling and keg stands are already tradition, you're going to add a beverage that will take an average size woman to more than double the legal limit in one sitting. Now change that to a 110 pound, naive drinking female and you get a blood alcohol concentration of a 0.233. When you consider that the average BAC level attributed to death by alcohol intoxication alone is a 0.250, this is reason to be concerned.

The drink is tailor-made for that crowd with the energy aspect, the low cost, high alcohol and fruit flavors. It is sure to become very popular. One can only hope that they will show better judgment than college students are known to display.

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