As a college student, my Facebook feed has been saturated with complaints about the recent discontinuation of “Four Loko,” an alcoholic drink which is sold in 23.5-ounce cans containing 12% alcohol by volume. The combination is now illegal following several reports of underage drinkers being hospitalized after consuming the product, which is said to be equivalent to five beers and a cup of coffee. To me, it seems this motion to ban Four Loko is rooted more in an objective to be seen as doing “anything” to quell this problem: to stop something as improper as people getting ill from a silly-looking drink. The same chemical compounds are what get others buzzed at cocktail parties, but somehow an Irish coffee is less reprehensible than a can of some sugary malt liquor combination.
The complaint is that the specific combination of alcohol and caffeine truly inhibits anyone from conceiving their limit. Though, if anything, the newfound illegality of Four Loko has spurned a new popularity for the beverage. My friends have referred me to “Make Your Own Four Loko” videos, some are trying it just to know what they hype is all about, and several are stocking up in order to have pre-Thanksgiving “going away” parties for the beverage. For such a repulsive-sounding drink that probably would have fallen out of trend in a few months, it is really making the most of it’s fifteen minutes thanks to Big Brother.
In college, it is very easy to access any combination of alcohol and different people have different objectives when they drink. If someone wants to get drunk, they will. If someone wants to preserve their dignity, they’ll stick to a few beers. If someone wants a Four Loko … they’ll now resort to taking shots and drinking soda (probably equivalent to more than five beers, too). An understanding of alcohol, it’s ramifications, and one’s own personal image is what separates idiocy from responsibility – not caffeine.