Energy drinks have been becoming more and more popular over the years. First it started with Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar, and then the market for these types of drinks quickly grew. Caffeine, being the major ingredient, is very addictive, and people who start drinking these types of drinks on a regular basis usually can’t stop.
So imagine if caffeine and alcohol, another addicting ingredient, were combined. Well, you don’t have to imagine that any further because a drink called “Four Loko” is just that. The drink has been selling big to college students who are already over-indulging both alcohol and caffeine.
Several Central Washington University students were hospitalized after drinking “Four Loko.” Now the college is calling for a campus-wide ban on the drinks and for an FDA investigation into them, according to NPR. The problem with “Four Loko” is that the caffeine masks the effect of the alcohol on students and so they continue to consume more beverages and some even attempt to drive home, thinking that they are fine. “Four Loko” is one of among two dozen caffeinated energy drinks, according to The Seattle Times. However, this recent case has brought the problem to the attention of the federal government and other colleges around the country.
Hawaii Pacific University, a college with two campuses on the Hawaiian Island of Oahu, has dealt with the effects of alcohol on the University Campus. The Honolulu-based campus of the University is in the heart of the city, and so there are many buildings and shops that are directly on the campus that are not University-related. This is the major problem that had to be dealt with because students could easily pick up alcohol at the stores right outside of their classroom. So there was really no way to stop students from consuming alcohol or bringing it on campus when they couldn’t run the stores.
Their solution was to make it illegal for any type of alcohol to be brought onto the University’s grounds — that included any building or classroom that was associated with HPU. Since parts of the mall are University property and other parts are not, if you didn’t buy the alcohol and go home with it right away, you were at risk for disciplinary action being taken against you for the possession of a controlled substance. Hawaii Pacific University policy is also adamant that even if you are 21, you are not to be in possession of any controlled substance anywhere on the University campus. This has helped them crack down on substance abuse campus wide.
Other ways that college campuses can crack down on these caffeinated energy drinks being consumed on campus is to not sell any caffeinated beverages like them. They also could have more options such as smoothie shops, like “Jamba Juice,” on the campus for healthier options to keep students on the move. Also, if energy drinks are needed for a student to complete all of her work, then more student resources should be available to help them work through their class schedules without the help of caffeine or alcohol. Hopefully the drinks will be fully investigated by the FDA to determine the harm that could come to students if something isn’t done immediately.
April Fulton, “Four Loko Alcoholic Energy Drinks Blamed For Sickening College Students” NPR
Jack Broom, “Four Loko energy drink’s makers: CWU students misused our product” The Seattle Times.