College students go crazy for Four Loko; Officials want it gone - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

College students go crazy for Four Loko; Officials want it gone

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – Energy drinks containing alcohol are becoming more popular at parties across the country, and it seems to be causing more health and safety concerns.

"If you drink enough of these you will black out pretty fast," said UNCW sophomore Robert McFadyen in regards to a beverage called Four Loko.

The drink, which is a mix of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated water, is being banned across the country, and Gov. Beverly Perdue wants alcoholic energy drinks out of North Carolina.

In a statement Friday, Perdue asked manufacturers of the beverages to pull their products from North Carolina until they're shown to be safe.

"While we don't agree with the notion that mixing caffeine and alcohol is inherently unsafe, we do agree with the goal of keeping adults of legal age who choose to drink responsibly as safe and as informed as possible," Four Loko's founders responded in an open letter to state and federal regulators.

[Read the entire open letter (HTML)]

Officials say the combination of alcohol and stimulants can be dangerous in large quantities. 

"I've had friends that can drink just one, and they're like – wasted," explained UNCW freshman Lyndsey Gardner.

Nicknamed "Blackout in a Can," Four Loko comes in a bright, flashy can that is easier to hide than a six-pack.  The sugary energy drink contains 12 percent alcohol and only costs about $2.00.

According to UNCW's Substance Abuse and Prevention Office, most students caught drinking on campus have been drinking Four Loko.  Out of student binge drinkers, about 25 percent say they're downing alcoholic energy drinks.

Last month, nine college students in Washington State were hospitalized after a drinking binge that included such drinks.  Michigan, Utah, Oklahoma and Washington have issued short-term emergency bans on the drinks.

North Carolina's ABC Commission will consider restricting the sales of alcoholic energy drinks during their meeting Thursday.

The federal Food and Drug Administration is currently reviewing the safety of the beverage.

Copyright 2010 WECT. All rights reserved.

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