Four Loko gold is an alcoholic beverage that contains 12% alcohol by volume. This means each 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko gold contains the alcohol equivalent of about 4.5 regular (12 ounce, 5% ABV) beers.
Let’s break down the alcohol content of Four Loko gold:
- Each can contains 23.5 fluid ounces of liquid
- The alcohol by volume (ABV) is 12%
To calculate the number of “drinks” in one can of Four Loko gold:
- Convert the can size to ounces: 23.5 oz
- Multiply by the ABV percentage: 23.5 * 0.12 = 2.82 ounces of pure alcohol
- Divide by 0.6 oz (standard alcohol serving size): 2.82 oz / 0.6 oz/drink = 4.7 drinks
So each 23.5 ounce can of Four Loko gold contains approximately 4.7 “drinks” worth of alcohol. The FDA defines one alcoholic drink as containing 0.6 ounces of pure alcohol.
Drinking one can of Four Loko gold would significantly impact blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for most people:
- For a 140 lb person, one can would lead to an estimated BAC of around 0.11% – beyond the legal driving limit of 0.08%.
- For a 180 lb male, one can would result in a BAC around 0.09% – approaching the driving limit.
So despite being a single can, a Four Loko gold has the intoxicating effect of nearly 5 drinks consumed in a short period of time. This can rapidly raise BAC to dangerous levels.
Effects Compared to Other Drinks
Here’s how one Four Loko gold compares to other common alcoholic drinks:
|Four Loko gold||23.5||12%||4.7|
|Shot of liquor||1.5||40%||1|
As you can see, a single can of Four Loko gold is equivalent to nearly 5 beers, 5 glasses of wine, or 5 shots of liquor. This makes it very easy to consume dangerous levels of alcohol very quickly if drinking more than one Four Loko.
Other Four Loko Details
Here are some other key facts about Four Loko gold:
- Originates from Phusion Projects in Chicago, IL
- Comes in a variety flavors like watermelon, lemonade, and fruit punch
- Banned for a period of time due to safety concerns
- High sugar content masks taste of alcohol
- Has been associated with binge drinking among underage youth
- Nicknamed “blackout in a can” due to intoxicating effects
While one can may seem harmless, Four Loko gold packs the alcohol punch of multiple drinks. Consuming more than one can in a short timeframe can lead to extreme intoxication and dangerous health side effects.
How Fast Is It Absorbed?
There are several factors that determine how quickly the body absorbs alcohol from a Four Loko gold:
- Carbonation – The carbonation speeds up alcohol absorption from the stomach into the bloodstream.
- Sugar – The high sugar content results in faster passage of alcohol from the stomach to the intestine.
- Caffeine – Caffeine hinders the production of an enzyme needed to break down alcohol, leading to faster intoxication.
- Stomach contents – Drinking on an empty stomach results in faster absorption than after a meal.
Research indicates the alcohol from a Four Loko gold may enter the bloodstream up to 30% faster compared to a non-carbonated, non-caffeinated drink like wine or beer. The rapid spike in blood alcohol can overwhelm the liver’s ability to metabolize the alcohol.
Risks and Dangers
Due to the concentrated amount of alcohol in just one can, drinking Four Loko gold poses serious risks:
- Alcohol poisoning – High BAC can cause vomiting, seizures, loss of consciousness, respiratory failure, or death.
- Injuries – Intoxication dramatically increases risks of falls, burns, drowning, assault, sexual assault, and car accidents.
- Poor decisions – Excessive drinking impairs judgment and lowers inhibitions, leading to risky behaviors like unprotected sex or drunk driving.
- Alcoholism – Those predisposed may accelerate dependence on alcohol.
- Drug interactions – Caffeine can mask the sedative effects of alcohol, while alcohol interacts with numerous medications.
- Hangovers – The combination of alcohol, caffeine, and sugar can worsen hangover symptoms like headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue.
It’s important to carefully monitor your intake of Four Loko gold and not exceed one can within several hours. Drinking responsibly by staying hydrated, pacing yourself, and not mixing caffeine with alcohol can help mitigate risks.
Regularly drinking beverages with high alcohol content like Four Loko gold can lead to increased alcohol tolerance. This occurs as the liver enzymes responsible for metabolizing alcohol become more efficient with frequent exposure to high doses.
Signs of increased alcohol tolerance include:
- Needing more drinks to feel intoxicated
- Feeling less impaired after drinking the same amount
- Experiencing fewer hangover symptoms
- Drinking more frequently or in larger quantities
- Continuing to drink despite signs of intoxication
- Withdrawing from social activities to drink alone
While tolerance may allow someone to “handle more liquor,” it does not decrease the damage done to internal organs like the liver and brain. Seeking help for problem drinking is advised if alcohol tolerance becomes problematic.
Legality and Availability
Four Loko gold is sold legally in most U.S. states to those age 21 and over. However, some areas have banned or limited sales including:
- Washington – banned in 2010 but ban lifted in 2011
- Michigan – banned in 2010 but ban lifted in 2011
- Utah – limited to 2% alcohol by volume
- California – banned caffeinated alcoholic drinks in 2010
- Oklahoma – banned in 2010 but lift on ban rejected in 2018
- New York – attempted ban in 2010 but ruled unconstitutional
- Maryland – attempted ban in 2011 but did not pass legislation
- Massachusetts – banned permanently in 2010
The maker of Four Loko announced in 2017 it would reformulate its products, removing caffeine, guarana, and wormwood (absent in Four Loko gold already). This voluntary change headed off further potential bans.
Today, Four Loko gold contains alcohol, carbonation, sugar, natural flavors, and citric acid. Some countries like France, Denmark, and Turkey also prohibit the sale of Four Loko due to public health concerns.
For those looking for an alcoholic option without the higher alcohol content of Four Loko gold, some alternatives include:
- Beer – At around 5% ABV, beer provides a milder buzz.
- Wine – Most wines are in the 11-15% ABV range.
- Mixed drinks – Opt for just one shot of liquor with non-alcoholic mixer.
- Cider – Hard ciders average 5-8% ABV.
- Seltzers – Spiked seltzers like White Claw have around 5% ABV.
Abstaining fully from alcohol is also an option for those who wish to avoid intoxication. Taking a sober approach allows you to stay safe and in control.
Warnings Signs of Alcohol Abuse
Drinking in excess, regardless of tolerance levels, can be indicative of an alcohol use disorder. Warning signs include:
- Inability to limit or stop drinking
- Needing more alcohol to get buzzed
- Failed attempts to cut back on drinking
- Spending a lot of time drinking or recovering from alcohol
- Continuing to drink despite negative consequences
- Giving up activities to drink
- Drinking in dangerous situations like before driving
- Continuing to drink even when depressed or anxious
- Having withdrawal symptoms like nausea, sweating, or tremors when stopping
- Hiding alcohol consumption from loved ones
Seeking professional help for alcohol dependence or abuse can help someone reduce drinking to safe levels or quit altogether.
Support and Treatment Options
For those concerned about their drinking patterns or alcohol use, many support options exist including:
- Talking to a healthcare provider – Doctors can provide an assessment and refer to treatment resources.
- Contacting the SAMHSA helpline – Calling 1-800-662-HELP (4357) puts you in touch with free referral services.
- Seeing a mental health counselor – Psychologists and therapists can help uncover root causes of excessive drinking.
- Joining AA meetings – Alcoholics Anonymous provides free peer support groups for achieving and maintaining sobriety.
- Entering a rehab program – Inpatient or outpatient alcohol rehab offers structured professional treatment.
- Using medications – Drugs like naltrexone, acamprosate, and disulfiram can help reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms.
With compassion, time, motivation, and support, even dependent drinkers can reduce their alcohol intake or quit drinking entirely. The journey to sobriety takes courage, but worthwhile rewards lie ahead.
In summary, one can of Four Loko gold contains approximately 4 to 5 alcoholic drink equivalents and significantly raises BAC levels. Its high alcohol concentration poses serious health and safety risks if consumed irresponsibly. Moderation, pacing consumption, and not mixing caffeine with alcohol can help mitigate potential dangers for those who choose to drink Four Loko products. But abstaining fully is the only sure way to avoid intoxication and alcohol-related harm.