Disclaimer: The information, articles, and tips portrayed on this blog, while based on research, do not constitute medical advice. The opinions expressed are meant to educate and inform, but not to dictate lifestyle choices or personal beliefs. These articles are meant to provoke thought on issues surrounding college health and to inform the Hopkins community of healthy information and resources.


Weekend Sip Tip

If you've recently browsed through the headlines, you most likely have stumbled upon some mention of the drink Four Loko. The hospitalization of several college students who consumed the drink has led to blanket bans by officials and administrators alike. These incidents may be publicized, but the use is not isolated. The low costs, sweet taste, and high alcohol content make the drink tempting to many college students. Branded as 'liquid cocaine' or 'blackout in a can', you can see how it may draw the attention of drinkers. Four Loko may be taking the heat, but it's not the only beverage of its kind. Roughly 25 companies produce a similar beverage and the FDA is looking for evidence that these drinks are actually safe for consumption. One 23.5oz can contains the equivalent of six alcohol servings and roughly the caffeine equivalent of 4 cups of coffee. Sound like your idea of a quick and cheap pregame? Hold that thought. When consumed quickly (as is usually done), these drinks cause severe side effects. There are many potential dangers associated with alcoholic energy drinks, but the most life-threatening stems from the combination of a depressant (alcohol) and a stimulant (caffeine).

Your brain is only programmed to process so much alcohol in so much time before it engages certain life-saving mechanisms. When you pass out, it's not because you are tired. You pass out because your brain is trying to save you from yourself because it knows if you are sleeping, you aren't drinking. Once caffeine is added to the mix, your brain gets mixed messages. Part of it wants to make you drowsy and go to sleep and another part wants to keep you alert and awake. The caffeine bypasses your brains ability to protect itself. If your 'vomit' mechanism somehow gets bypassed as well, you are looking at a serious life-threatening scenario: alcohol poisoning. Another side-effect, the imminent hangovers. Alcohol and caffeine both act to dehydrate your body so using them in tandem will leave you with one heck of a hangover the next morning. If you choose to drink, opt for drinks with lower alcohol concentrations and avoid mixing them with caffeine. If you can't shake your love of the Loko, don't down them by yourself. Split one with a friend, sip slowly, and rehydrate yourself. Give it time to kick in fully before you reach for another drink. As with all alcohol, the greatest risks occur when it is not consumed responsibly and in moderation. Stick with safety, Stop@Buzzed!


Anonymous said...

Also dangerous: drinking a whole fifth, drinking an entire case of beer, living in Baltimore, and inhaling PJ's air just after they announce last call. I urge you to do none of these things in excess. Or be adults and make responsible decisions.