Parent Advisories provide information about parenting, as well as updates about products or behaviors that are affecting our youth.
Four Loko is a mix of a caffeinated energy drink and a high-alcohol beverage that is sending teens to the emergency room. It may be that many adults/parents do not realize that there is alcohol in this drink as well caffeine – a very dangerous combination. Normally, drinking alcohol makes people drowsy and they fall asleep and stop drinking. But Four Loko’s caffeine and energy drink ingredients keep people awake for a longer time, allowing them to ingest more of the high-alcohol drink. Dr. Amy Myers, medical director of health services and a physician at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania, first heard of the drink a few months ago. It has quickly become a concern, said Myers.
“Kids get into trouble quicker with it because they have the stimulant of the caffeine on board so they don’t recognize the effects of the alcohol as quickly,” she said.
Four Loko comes in a colorful, tall can and in fruity flavors, such as blue raspberry and watermelon. It has a 12 percent alcohol content, more than twice that of most beers. Drinking one 23.5-ounce can of Four Loko is the equivalent to drinking 4.7 beers. Many teens know about this drink and empty cans have been seen after football games around the stadiums. The name Four Loko is a marketing device that encourages consumers of the beverage to attempt to drink four cans, or the equivalent of almost 19 beers.
Many of these alcohol high energy drinks are actually less expensive than the non-alcoholic energy drinks. Four Loko should be sold in the same coolers containing alcoholic beverages, and not among energy drinks or sodas. If parents notice this product inappropriately placed among energy drinks or sodas, bring it to the store manager’s attention.
Herbal incense is a variable mix of chemical compounds that can produce reactions severe enough to send teens to the emergency room. Poison control centers in 46 states and Washington, D.C., tallied 761 cases involving “herbal incense” as of July, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. Most came from Georgia, Indiana, Missouri and Texas, with a “handful” from Virginia, according to the organization’s spokeswoman, Jessica Wehrman, as quoted in the July 24th Roanoke Times.
Herbal incense is sold in the Roanoke and New River Valleys under the brand names K2, Cloud 9, Spice, Magic Gold, Buzz, Smoke, Skunk. As of August, 14 states have banned herbal incense. Virginia is considering emergency legislation to ban the products.