Four Loko Banned
In 2010, one particular alcoholic beverage came to the forefront of national attention. Health professionals, such as doctors, nurses, and medical assistants, were seeing a rise in incidents of alcohol poisoning across the United States and knew that something had to be done. In each of these incidents, the medical assistant played an important role and proper training in a quality medical assistant college made all the difference. The beverage in question was called Four Loko, and in December 2010, U.S. lawmakers were successful in pulling it off shelves nationwide.
Four Loko, which is still sold in its original formula in some countries, was named for its four main ingredients: Alcohol, caffeine, guarana, and taurine. It also contained small quantities of a fifth ingredient, wormwood, which is used in the making of absinthe. The Loko part of the name is Spanish for “crazy.” The beverage was sold in 23.5 ounce cans that cost approximately $2.50. Each can has 660 calories, contains 156 mg of caffeine, and has an alcohol content of 12 percent.
Four Loko first came onto the market in 2005 and as of 2010 it was sold in 46 states in the U.S. and across Europe. It is manufactured by Phusion Projects, LLC, based in Chicago. A survey by 7-Eleven stores in 2009 ranked the beverage as its fourth highest-selling alcoholic beverage. Four Loko was vigorously marketed to college students and most medical incidents involved young individuals in this demographic.
The popularity of Four Loko amongst college students was paralleled by the popularity of energy drinks. Over 500 new energy drinks were launched in 2010 alone. As an industry, energy drinks account for $3.4 billion dollars in sales every year. At college parties and bars catering to college students, energy drinks mixed with alcoholic beverages became a trend. Four Loko provided such a drink that was easily accessible, affordable, and required no mixing.
A problem began to be noticed by doctors and medical assistants in hospitals across the nation. The high caffeine content mixed with alcohol could lead to a state known as a “wide-awake drunk.” This results in overdrinking because the drinkers do not realize how much alcohol is being consumed and the actual state of their drunkenness. Research shows that when alcohol is mixed with energy drinks, drinkers are 3 times more likely to be involved in binge drinking. Additionally, these drinkers are 4 times more likely to attempt to drive a car.
The removal of Four Loko from shelves nationwide has been of great relief to the medical community.