A neighborhood teenager was telling me yesterday about an incident involving these new drinks Axis, Max and Four Loko which combine the equivalent of five cups of caffeine and 12% alcohol in a single drink. Local kids trust me because they know I won't tell their parents. And she wasn't one of the kids involved anyway - she was talking about something that happened with kids she goes to school with.
In case you are living in Siberia, these new drinks sell for $4-$5.00 which is a cheap and an easy way for kids to get wasted. The problem is it's also deadly - alcohol plus massive quantities of caffeine makes kids not feel the alcohol's effect right away. And so they keep drinking. A long time ago we did this too except we took speed and then went out drinking at a bar in college. Someone discovered that you could drink more alcohol and not get tired if you took drugs too. One of my friends had a psychotic episode that I had to get her through - so did I. We stopped doing it not long after we started. We were lucky.
On a recent high school trip to a competition, the seniors decided to get the smart kids who'd never been drunk - wasted. They were in a hotel and I guess no one was watching. They combined these energy drinks with vodka and dared the younger kids to drink them? What do you think happened?
The kids who had never been drunk before took the dare of course, and got trashed. They went running around screaming through the hotel, one fell in the pool, almost drowned and had to be revived via mouth to mouth. Almost all of them threw up and several got violently ill.
Then they all went to bed and got up the next morning sick as dogs and went to the academic competition they were traveling for and did quite well.
I heard of this second hand but I know it's true. And of course, I've been sworn to secrecy. My message is very simple - when you hand your teens over to the school or another group to go out of town you need to know who is watching, how they will be watched and what the heck happens. From what I can tell the school has no idea and no one has told their parents.
This story has all the elements of how kids get drunk for the first time and bad things happen.
- Older kids dare younger ones to do something they ordinarily wouldn't do.
- They want to appear cool so they do it.
- They get sick and maybe learn a lesson but the story is passed from kid to kid as a hilarious tale.
- Parents and the schools never hear about it.
What can you do? Talk to your kids and keep talking to them. Get as much information as you can before you let them go anywhere that you're not going to be - particularly overnight. And when they come home listen to the conversations in the back of the car. The neighborhood kid told me. But most of them don't and since my own kids weren't involved and I don't know the kids who were I can't do anything except write this blog.
I'm not saying that these things don't happen - they do. They happened to me. But these caffeine/alcohol drinks are deadly and these kids were lucky. They should be taken off the shelves and banned.
The manufacturers who make these drinks should be locked in a room and made to consume massive quantities of them and left there to deal with the consequences.