Last year, the alcohol/energy drink Four Loko made headlines after several people across the U.S. fell prey to alcohol poisoning or wrongful deaths allegedly related to the beverage’s combination of high alcohol content and large amounts of caffeine. As a result of public outcry, and a threat by the U.S. government to do something about it, the makers of Four Loko – Phusion Projects – voluntarily agreed to remove the caffeine and other energy components from the product.
However, a new study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science calls into question whether Four Loko is any safer – even with its new formulation. According to Shepard Siegel, University Professor of Health Sciences at McMaster University, it is the phenomenon of situational specificity of tolerance that makes Four Loko such a dangerous product.
Situational specificity of tolerance implies that an intoxicant that is administered in a way unanticipated by the body will have a more intoxicating effect than an intoxicant delivered in a way that the body is used to. For example, people who drink alcohol are generally accustomed to tasting it in a beverage like beer, wine, or a cocktail. Over time, they develop a physical and psychological tolerance to alcohol delivered in those ways. Siegel’s results suggest that when alcohol is delivered in an unfamiliar manner (such as in an extremely sweet, fruity beverage) the intoxicating effects of the alcohol are magnified.
Even in its new formulation with energy additives, Four Loko still boasts a 12% alcohol content – higher than beer or wine. As an Orlando accident attorney, I have been concerned about the safety for Four Loko for a long time. I continue to believe that it is a dangerous product, even under its current formulation.
If you have any questions about an accident or injury related to the consumption of Four Loko, feel free to call Orlando personal injury lawyer Kim Cullen at 407-644-4444.