Controversy brews over alcoholic energy drink

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  It's called "Blackout in a Can"- the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko. Healthcare professionals we spoke to say it packs the same punch as two cups of coffee and a six pack of beer.

We didn't have to search long for a local college student who has seen it at parties.

"They say it gets you real messed up real fast. That's what I heard but I never had it before," said Jessica.

A college in New Jersey reportedly banned the drink from campus after 23 students were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning.

Fifty students at Central Washington University were also sickened and many blame Four Loko.

"It's going to cause them to feel what researchers are calling wide awake drunk so you're feeling like you're drunk but you have this other side of it where you know what's going on and you know what's going on around you but that's definitely not the case. You're very, very drunk and it's going to cause you to be more drunk than you actually are," explained Heather Tommey who is a certified Healthcare Education Specialist.

The Attorney General in Washington state is even calling on the FDA to ban these types of beverages.

Meanwhile, Four Loko is trying to fight its dangerous reputation.

Phusion Products, the company that distributes the drink, released this statement:

"The unacceptable incident at Central Washington University, which appears to have involved hard liquor, such as vodka and rum, beer, our products, and possibly illicit substances, is precisely why we go to great lengths to ensure our products are not sold to underage consumers and are not abused."

"Anything in moderation is fine but if you overdo it then of course it's going to be bad," Jessica said.

"If it's in the colleges already, you know the high school students are bound to get it too. If it gets you that messed up, there's no telling what's going to happen next," said Sharaunda McKay, a local parent.

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