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Teen Choice: Alcohol Laced Energy Drink

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I just received information about a new “energy drink” that’s creating quite a stir for many parents and pediatricians.  “Four Loko” is actually an alcoholic beverage and is causing alcohol overdoses in teens who are consuming it in different areas of the country.

This beverage is packaged and appears to look like any other energy drink that many kids buy, but the difference is that it contains alcohol.  Four Loko is sold in a can and looks similar to your child’s favorite iced tea can or other fruit juice.  This appearance is one of the reasons it is inadvertently being sold to minors who are extremely savvy and are looking for a quick intoxication.  Look at a picture of the beverage on-line and you will see why it is easy to confuse.

Four Loko

Four Loko

So, if teens buy a can of Four Loko, it is the equivalent of drinking 3 beers and contains the same amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee!!!   This sounds disgusting to me, but it’s the ”perfect buzz” for adolescents.

The problem with this concoction is that while teenagers are consuming a can or two of Four Loko, the caffeine actually delays the effect of the alcohol.  Once the caffeine wears off, the effects of 3-6 beers kicks in and the effects of the alcohol may cause alcohol related issues and emergencies.

Several hospitals on the east coast have seen emergency room admissions among teens who have consumed Four Loko, and are alerting other physicians to be aware of cases of alcohol intoxication.

I am sure that there are other areas who are seeing teens and underage young adults who may have purchased Four Loko as store clerks accidently sell this alcoholic drink to minors. No need for a fake ID here.

Talk to your teens about this drink and the hazards of drinking and in this case combining caffeine and alcohol. It seems that the inventive company behind Four Loko has packaged the “perfect” drink for this age group as teens had previously had to combine their own alcohol (name your favorite) with Red Bull to allow them to drink more and have the caffeine to keep them awake.

This is not a good combination, but seems to be the perfect “energy drunk drink” for teens.

That’s your daiy dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question or comment to Dr. Sue!

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