You’ve probably heard of Four Loko, an alcoholic energy drink named after its four main beverages – alcohol, caffeine, taurine and guarana. It also contains carbonated water, sugar, natural and artificial flavoring. Four Loko is a big hit these days on college campuses, where, you may be surprised to learn, alcohol consumption among students is popular.
Recently several states have banned the sale of Four Loko, saying that combining energy drinks with alcohol represents a public health concern. There’s been a recent trend of college kids binging on Four Loko and subsequently blacking out. Once something like this happens three times, the news media loves to pounce on it with an series of “hard-hitting enterprise stories.” Panic in the streets ensues. Now there’s more hubbub associated with Cream, an alcoholic whipped cream, which is already generating controversy of its own.
Personally, I don’t do drugs. I don’t advocate drug use. I don’t even drink much anymore. This past weekend I got through a 10-hour high school reunion on the strength of one beer and one screwdriver and, after being dry for the final eight hours of the night, was more than sober enough to drive home without incident. I can’t envision myself ever being a regular Four Loko drinker.
But I’m also of the mindset that legislating morality and stupidity begins a slippery slope that ends in a police state. Prohibition didn’t work for alcohol in the 1920s, unless you define “working” as the onset of organized crime. Prohibition also isn’t working for the War on Drugs, unless you define “working” as the onset of gang warfare.
Do politicians really think college kids will stop binging simply by banning Four Loko, or are they just taking a stand to make them look good the next time they're up for re-election? College kids have been abusing alcohol for centuries. Here’s a sample conversation of what’ll happen in the post-Four Loko world:
College Student #1: “Yo, dude, what are we gonna do tonight?”
College Student #2: “I dunno, man, we can’t buy Four Loko anymore. It’s banned.”
College Student #1: “I know, dude! Let’s buy some regular energy drinks and mix them with vodka! That'll have the same effect as Four Loko! Seven or eight of those and we’ll get totally hammered!”
College Student #2: “Great idea, dude! You fly, I’ll buy.”
College Student #1: “Then we’ll go to that bar where all the smoking’ babes hang out, and drink Jack & Cokes all night long. It'll have the same effect as Four Loko. Man, after we down eight or nine alcoholic beverages mixed with caffeinated beverages, those babes are gonna be all over us!”
College Student #2: “Fuck yeah, dude! We’ll get so hammered. Those girls will totally wanna fuck us!”
College Student #1: “I can’t wait to get loaded! This is gonna be the best night ever! Rock and roll, man! (Primal scream.)”
The best way to stop binge drinking (are you listening, parents?) is to educate kids – or if you are the kids, educate yourselves – on the dangers and consequences of alcohol abuse.
It’s sad that some students have to learn the hard way. But there comes a point in life where Social Darwinism takes over. You can’t save people from their own stupidity. Passing laws banning certain alcoholic beverages doesn’t stop kids from abusive those beverages. It only creates more useless laws for kids to break.