Ban of ‘blackout in a can’ essential for safety, health

Here’s the scene: You’re at a normal college party.

For lack of other preference, Justin Bieber is blasting on the speakers. For lack of personal rhythm, students are dancing like they do on “Jersey Shore.” Finally, for lack of inhibition, alcohol is being consumed in a binge-like fashion. If this isn’t what your idea of a college party is… don’t judge me.

Skip two or so hours ahead. You’re still at the party, but things are no longer normal. Out of the 50 attendees, nine have been hospitalized and many more are getting sick. Police show up and are confused. They expect that some sort of mystery drug has been slipped into the students’ drinks — but have never seen anything like the situation in front of them.

This happened last month at Central Washington University. Yet, a mystery drug didn’t cause it. It was caused by Four Loko, the new trendy drink of the year for college-age kids.

If you’ve never heard of Four Loko, you are either someone who refrains from social media, or you live in Urbana. Either way, give yourself a pat on the back.

Four Loko is often bluntly referred to as a “blackout in a can” and has lived up to this expectation. One can of the drink, which is 23.5 ounces, includes the alcohol content of six cans of light beer and the caffeine of two cups of coffee, according to Washington Liquor Control Board spokesman Brian Smith. Even consumed separately, this is a lot of either substance. But combined, this is as dangerous as Springfield Avenue in the dark.

When caffeine brings your body up, and alcohol brings your body down, the two don’t cancel each other’s effects out — they exacerbate them. The caffeine will hide the depressant effects of alcohol and make you feel more stimulated. This will prohibit your body from putting itself to sleep when it wants to protect you from drinking more. With this, danger has arrived. The drunk (yet awake) version of you isn’t going to tell you to stop drinking, and this how so many college-aged kids recently have been hospitalized.

Because of these risks, Four Loko should be banned in Illinois as it recently was in Michigan. All alcohol can be dangerous, but Four Loko is far too loco for my liking.

It’s easy to explain the risks of Four Loko, so what could possibly be its benefits?

It’s cheap. Four Loko is only $2.69 a can at Hometown Pantry on Green Street. In the college binge-drinking culture, many students drink just to get drunk. Considering what it contains, Four Loko is definitely one of the most economical ways to get drunk. In these hard economic times, buying a Four Loko as opposed to buying a six-pack is the only sensible thing to do — smart college students recognize this.

It’s fast. College students have become exceedingly impatient. We are impatient with our information, so we take advantage of Facebook and Twitter to the sacrifice of privacy. We are too impatient to have a full verbal conversation, so we take advantage of texting to the sacrifice of human interaction. Four Loko gets us browned-out/blacked-out/to the point where its not cold out — and it does this FAST. Of course we’ll take advantage of this!

It’s wild! For some reason in the United States, a lot of people have an accepted mind set that while in college, students are permitted to behave in a way that is not accepted anywhere else. After four years of partying, students are then forced into the real world… because apparently this world is fake.

The joke has been made that it’s only alcoholism if you’re older than 23. There are many students who embrace this exceptionalism, and what better drink to define this mind set than one that all but guarantees “blacking out?”

Four Loko is 23.5 ounces of college student in a can, plain and simple. Its “benefits” would make our parents raise an eyebrow.

The drink is trendy, and will most likely sink into oblivion with the likes of Ed Hardy and upside-down visors. If not, its risks will ultimately lead to its rightful demise.

Four-get about Four Loko. If you really seek destination blackout, there are other roads. Take the one less traveled by [college students], that will make all the difference.

Tim is a junior in LAS.