Four Loko At It Again

Combining alcohol and caffeine is dangerous

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Caffeinated alcoholic drinks have created quite the stir and definitely not the good kind. Teens are now ending up in the emergency room from drinking too many of these types of drinks.

Four Loko is one of the more recent beverages to combine alcohol and caffeine and has caught the attention of many because of it's high alcohol content. The Food and Drug Administration attempted to recall the beverages for being too strong. But even after Four Loko reformulated their beverage some still believe it’s too dangerous.

"Caffeine and alcohol is a dangerous combination."

The combination of alcohol, caffeine and youth are cause for much concern, said lead author, Deborah Levine, M.D., of Bellevue Hospital Center in New York. 

“Wide-awake drunk” is the term that's been given to the effects from caffeinated alcohol products, and refers to the decreased perception of intoxication and awareness of physical impairment while having increased alertness.

There have been eleven patients admitted to the emergency department at Bellevue Hospital Center during a four month period due to intoxication by caffeinated alcohol. Alarmingly, ten out of the eleven patients were underage.

Patients that were admitted were 63.6 percent male and 96 percent under the age of 18. Most of the patients were found in dangerous situations. One patient was found on subway tracks because he had fallen onto them, Levine adds.

Even though Four Loko may have reformulated their beverage, their marketing has made a lasting impression on teenagers and college students. Other caffeinated alcoholic drinks are still on the market and increased rates of injury and emergency room visits remain.

The research is published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 5, 2011
Last Updated:
November 14, 2011