University bans 'blackout' beverage

Nov. 4, 2010 at 6:24 PM
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PROVIDENCE, R.I., Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The University of Rhode Island says it is banning stimulant-laced alcoholic drinks including Four Loko.

URI officials have expressed growing concerns in recent weeks about the dangers of caffeine-spiked alcoholic drinks, with Four Loko popularly called "blackout in a can," The Providence (R.I.) Journal reported Thursday.

At a recent music concert at the University's Ryan Center, medical personnel treated more than 30 people for alcohol-related illness or injury, including 11 who were taken to hospital, the newspaper said.

Although no alcohol was served at the center, students went on drinking binges before the concert, police and university officials said.

The practice is known as "pre-gaming" or "front-loading," Dan Graney, assistant director of Student Life for Substance Abuse Prevention, said.

The aim is to consume as much as possible as quickly as possible to get a long-lasting buzz, he said.

"If you were drinking regular alcoholic beverage, you would start to feel these effects a lot sooner," Graney said.

But the caffeine in the mix masks the effects until the blood-alcohol level has risen to the point where the drinker becomes ill or passes out, he said.

Four Loko is sold in brightly-colored 23.5 ounce cans in several sweet flavors and targeted at young people.

Each can contains the same amount of alcohol as 4.7 regular beers or standard drinks, Graney said.

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