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Caffeinated alcoholic drinks tough to swallow

October 28, 2010 - Mary Ann Heath
As if getting all ramped up on caffeine, or sloshed on alcohol aren’t bad enough experiences solo, companies actually had to go and put the two together? 

Nevermind that one is a stimulant, the other a depressant; the last thing I’d want to do after consuming too many drinks is stay up all night. Perhaps I’m getting old, but my consumption of both alcohol and caffeine has dropped dramatically. I have no desire to imbibe anything called “Four Loco” — as if the word “crazy” is not a tip-off? 

The sale of such drinks should come with a warning, or be illegal all together.  Students at Ramapo College in New Jersey, and Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., consumed caffeinated alcoholic drinks and ended up in emergency rooms. Some were said to have high levels of alcohol poisoning.

Doctors warn against the drinks because the caffeine — as much as one cup of coffee — masks the effects of alcohol, making it possible for those consuming the drink to fail to recognize how intoxicated they are.  According to health officials, the concoction is a “recipe for disaster” because the body’s natural defense is to get sleepy and not want to drink.  “...In this case, you’re tricking the body with caffeine,” said Dr. Michael Reihart in a New York Times article. Reihart is an emergency room doctor at Lancaster General Hospital in Lancaster, Pa. 

As many as 18 attorney generals have urged the Food and Drug Administration to investigate whether the drinks are safe. The Federal Trade Commission is also probing whether the drinks target underage drinkers with colorful packaging and flavors like blue raspberry, lemon-lime and watermelon.  Some lawmakers are pushing to ban the drinks, but legislation has yet to be passed. 

Really, though, the problem is much bigger than the health risks, or whether the drinks are legal. The problem is a society that welcomes such risky drinking in the first place; one that lacks a sense of consequence. More than that, is the reality that Americans are growing more and more like the Epsilons in Aldous Huxley’s “A Brave New World”: Easily-amused and always looking forward to our Soma Holiday, our weekly-scheduled, government-issued sedation of choice. We now demand that even mindless entertainment be more interactive. As though 300 channels of nonsense is not enough — now it must be three-dimensional as well. And why? The “Feelies” the Epsilons clambered so much to enjoy are not just a ridiculous thing for Huxley to imagine. How long until we demand our TVs be plugged into our senses? Entertain me; sedate me. Put it in a loud-colored wrapper, add some artificial sweetener and voila!  We want to get messed up, have more “fun” and we want more time to do it. Please, add caffeine to my booze.

Maybe society doesn’t welcome this behavior; It requires it. It thrives on it. 


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