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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI announces ban of stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages

Media Contact: Wendy Roworth, 401-874-2773

The following is a message sent to the University Community by Vice President of Student Affairs Thomas Dougan:


Last week, President Dooley approved a ban on stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages, including the brand FOUR LOKO, from the University of Rhode Island. It was decided that these beverages pose a health risk equal to or greater than grain alcohol, tap systems, drinking games, and common source containers, all of which are already banned in the URI Student Handbook.

In recent weeks there has been a growing concern around students' drinking stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages, in particular FOUR LOKO. The national media recently reported an incident involving nine first year women at Central Washington University who were hospitalized after drinking at a party. At first, authorities believed the women had their drinks spiked by drugs. It turned out that all nine women reported drinking FOUR LOKOs that night. Since that incident, Central Washington University and Ramapo College in New Jersey have banned FOUR LOKO and other stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages on their campuses. In addition a number of state attorneys general, including New York and New Jersey, and the Federal Food and Drug Administration are investigating the legality of selling stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages.

Stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages are premixed beverages that combine alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants. Combining stimulants like caffeine and alcohol constitutes a dangerous mix, particularly for young people, because stimulants reduce a person's sense of alcohol intoxication (i.e., "feeling drunk") and alcohol impairs judgment and reaction time. Many of these drinks contain a substantially higher level of caffeine than is in several servings of coffee. The caffeine masks the intoxicating effects of alcohol. This effect increases risks of engaging in violent or other high-risk physical behaviors. Young people are more likely to take risks than adults and to suffer more problems, including alcohol-related traffic accidents, violence, sexual assault, and suicide.

FOUR LOKO is of particular concern given that it is 12 percent alcohol by volume, and comes in 23.5 ounce cans. This means that each can of FOUR LOKO is the equivalent of 4.7 standard drinks. The higher alcohol content, high dose of caffeine, and cheap sale price make FOUR LOKO the perfect pre-gaming "weapon of choice." The goal of front loading or pre-gaming is to drink as much as possible as quickly as possible then go out and drink more. The combination of alcohol and stimulants makes this practice particularly dangerous.

If you have any questions regarding this ban, or would like additional resources concerning stimulant-enhanced alcoholic beverages please contact Dan Graney, assistant director of Student Life for Substance Abuse Prevention at (401) 874-5073 or dgraney@uri.edu.