Recently many Universities have banned Four Loko on their campuses. At West Chester University, the Department of Public Safety has medically treated 13 people after they consumed Four Loko. Michael Bicking, Director of Public Safety Department, said there have been several cases of people drinking on campus and “significant cases” that involve the consumption of Four Loko. There have been “13 cases alone . . . [people who were] so inebriated that they needed medical attention.”
Public Safety requires people to have medical response if their blood alcohol content [BAC] is .20 or higher.
Mary Jane Rogan, head of the Health and Wellness Center, said that because alcohol is a depressant, this affects the nerve system while the caffeine keeps people awake and delays the effects of the depressant. Alcohol can make people tired, however, with the caffeine, this keeps people from sleeping.
“When people are still awake, they tend to keep drinking,” Rogan said, “Where as if they fall asleep, they have stopped drinking.”
“It’s like going from zero to 60 mph,” Bicking explained about drinking and the rise of BAC. A person’s BAC rises an hour after you stop drinking, before it is out of your system.
“The scariest thing about a high BAC, is that we don’t know if you’re going up or coming down,” Bicking said.
Rogan said one problem with alcohol alone is that students are “drinking too much too fast.”
“I chugged one and then I don’t remember most things after that,” Chris Arizzi said, a first-year student.
Arizzi said he did not drink any other alcohol that night after drinking one can of Four Loko. He said it took him about five minutes to drink the 23.5 oz can of Four Loko. This is the equivalent of drinking about five shots in five minutes.
Arizzi, already having previously hurt his foot which he wears a boot for, now has a broken hand from the night he drank Four Loko. When Arizzi consumed the Four Loko, he broke his hand when he “got angry and punched a wall a couple of times.” Not remembering this part of his night, Arizzi was told he got angry when “someone was messing with him.” As a result of his anger and consumption of alcohol, he hit the wall with his fist. He will wear a cast for three more weeks.
“They call it black-out for a reason,” Arizzi said referring to the alcoholic beverage.
Not cooperating with his friends that night, Arizzi said he was told by his friends to stay in his room, however, he continued to go to the lobby of his residence hall.
The next day Arizzi said he felt weird, and very hungover as he tried to “piece together why my hand was broken.” He said he has “never blacked out before, from drinking.”
Arizzi has been given the nickname “Lotso” by the residents and friends in his residence hall who witnessed or heard about his night with Four Loko. “Lotso” is a character from Toy Story 3, a teddy bear from the Disney movie. Just like “Lotso,” Arizzi now uses a cane to walk around.
“I would tell people to stay away from Four Loko,” Arizzi said. He added that he will never drink it again himself.
Juan Puppo said he never heard about Four Loko until the day after the Bloomsburg University student died.
“Just hearing about it scares me. The fact that it’s alcohol and caffeine-it just sounds bad for your body,” Puppo said.
“When I see people drinking Four Loko, I remind them of the Bloom story,” Puppo said. He is friends with the roommate of the deceased student from Bloomsburg University.
Puppo said he took a sip of a Four Loko, and didn’t want to drink one after hearing about other people who have gone comatose after consuming Four Lokos throughout their night.
“A lot of my friends say that they only drink one [Four Loko],” Puppo said. “People who drink more than one get really bad hangovers, get arrested or hurt.”
Bicking said that the department of Public Safety has seen an “average of two [Four Loko incidents] a week since the beginning of the fall semester.”
Public Safety saw a “trend” of Four Loko beginning about three years ago. Four Loko was produced in 2005.
Bicking said that when people were drinking Four Loko, police officers saw that more females were drinking Four Lokos than males were. Overall, Public Safety saw that the BACs were higher, for both males and females, who have consumed Four Loko.
“We’ve seen BACs well over .20,” Bicking said, “Some were .30. This could be in the stages of alcohol poisoning.”
Another first-year student who has drank Four Loko shared his and his friends’ experiences. Nick Odermatt said his friend drank three cans of Four Loko, after that, “he was completely out of it, he didn’t know who I was.”
“One and done . . . I would never drink more than that,” Odermatt said.
The Health and Wellness Center suggests to anyone who is drinking Four Loko to not consume more than one can of the beverage. One can alone contains 12 percent of alcohol.
Many students said they had never tried Four Loko, only that they had heard about the alcoholic beverage. West Chester University has sent out e-mails about the dangers of consuming Four Loko, including that one can contains the same amount of alcohol as four to five standard drinks and the same amount of caffeine in four 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola.
“I think a lot of people go for [the alcoholic beverage] because it looks appealing. It looks like Arizona Ice-T,” Puppo said. “It is appealing to young people. The name too, is appealing to younger people.”
Public Safety tried to “recognize a pattern” in which they saw that people were moving away from drinking beer and liquor. Bicking said they found that people were combining liquor and energy drinks. They recoginized this trend about three or four years ago.
Four Loko comes in colorful cans that identify which flavor the beverage is. Four Loko comes in several flavors such as watermelon, fruit punch, orange crush, blue raspberry, cranberry lemonade and lemonade.
Bicking said marketing must have realized combining alcohol and energy supplements as a way to appeal to their customers. People have combined Jagermeister and Red Bull, called a Jager Bomb. Another popular combination of an energy drink with alcohol is Vodka and Red Bull.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at RD655287@wcupa.edu.