The caffeine in the drink masks how drunk the person is getting. It’s a medical fact that caffeine hides the effects of the alcohol. The big problem is that people don’t realize how intoxicated they really are. Some people have tested with near-lethal blood alcohol levels, and they have no idea. They wake up the next morning with no memory of the last night, and they’re sitting in a hospital bed dazed and confused.
The issue is that the drinks have been marketed to a younger crowd. Companies target susceptible young people who are eager to try something new.
Drinks like one Four Loko, have been labeled “blackout in a can”. That is only one of about two dozen similar products on the market, but the brand has recently come under criticism. Each drink has an alcohol concentration of 12 percent, which is equivalent to drinking 4 to 6 cans of beer along with the caffeine in 1 to 2 cups of coffee.
The drink has been blamed for several deaths lately. Also, students at a college in Washington and one in New Jersey have been hospitalized after consuming the drink. They were diagnosed with high levels of alcohol poisoning.
The Food and Drug Administration announced that adding caffeine to alcohol is “unsafe” and they gave four manufacturers fifteen days each to stop using caffeine in their drinks, or eliminate the product completely.
An emergency ban of alcoholic beverages containing caffeine was approved by the Washington state Liquor Control Board which took effect November 18th. It will remain for 120 days while they figure out procedures for a permanent ban. The state Legislature is also expected to consider passing a law banning the drinks.