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Four Loko endangers students

Emily Schrank | Friday, November 5, 2010

Four Loko, the new popular caffeinated malt beverage with an alcohol content of 12 percent, has taken college campuses around the country by storm, and Notre Dame is no exception.

“We do know that students are using Four Loko and a lot of cases related to this drink have come up recently,” Kelly Lawrence, assistant director of the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education, said. “I’ve heard it described as ‘cocaine in a can’ and I think that makes it more enticing to students.”

Lawrence said the most dangerous thing about Four Loko is the added pressure it puts on the heart.

“Students need to realize that Four Loko mixes a stimulant and a depressant, which are meant to have opposite effects,” he said. “The combination of the two things tends to mask how intoxicated you really are.”

Lawrence said he thinks most students who drink Four Loko utilize the beverage as “a part of their ‘pre-game’ ritual.”

“Judging by my conversations with students, Four Loko seems to be the first drink of the evening for most people,” he said. “Obviously the preference would be for students not to use it at all, but we do want to get involved in some type of dialogue and talk about why they are [using it].”

Drinking Four Loko facilitates higher levels of intoxication, which increases students’ risk of legal and disciplinary problems, Lawrence said.

“My sense is that students do know it’s dangerous,” he said. “But there’s this invulnerability where they think ‘nothing is going to happen to me.'”

Junior Meghan Donoghue, 21, said Four Loko is popular among many of her friends.

“I think people initially thought it was something that would get them drunk really fast and that’s where all the hype came from,” she said.

Donoghue said she thinks drinking Four Lokos has become about bragging rights for many students.

“People want to say ‘oh, I shotgunned a Four Loko’ or ‘I drank three in an hour,'” she said.

Despite the health risks associated with Four Loko, Donoghue said none of her friends have discontinued their consumption of the drink.

Lawrence said the Office of Alcohol and Drug Education is not currently advocating any policy change or du Lac amendment related to student consumption of Four Lokos, but the Office will continue to educate students on the dangers of mixing alcohol and energy drinks.

“We are all involved in educating students about the effects of the beverage and the risk factors,” he said. “And because it is a general concern as well, we have been generating discussion on Four Loko in our various education groups over the last few weeks.”