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When caffeine and alcohol are mixed together, as they are in the drink Four Loko, the combination can be deadly. This is precisely why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have had to crack down on caffeine infused alcoholic beverages such as Four Loko, reports the L.A. Times.
Experts believe that Four Loko is the equivalent of two cups of coffee combined with four of five beers. The combination’s toxicity isn’t completely understood thus far, however, it appears to impair a drinker’s judgment more than alcohol alone.
"Amongst some users, there's a higher incidence of risk-taking behaviors because their perceptions of their limitations are distorted," said Dr. Steven Lipshultz, chief of pediatrics at the University medical school.
Caffeine is a stimulant, while alcohol is a depressant, but just because the two have different after effects, they do not cancel each other out.
"Some people have the idea that the caffeine will negate the effect of the alcohol — and that's simply not true," said Dr. Glenn Whelan, assistant professor at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy.
Instead, the caffeine reduces the drowsiness that drinking causes and delays the feeling of drunkenness, so that those who drink the combination will likely continue to drink beyond their normal limits.