Childish Drinking

Drinking is for adults; children are not allowed.  That’s pretty simple on the surface.  But children imitate us – even my cat does – and sometimes we need to intercede in unwanted behaviors.   A recent drink product, called a “booze delivery system” in a New York Times blog, is dangerous and adults with kids need to be made aware of its allure.

Loko Four is a 12% alcohol beverage mixed with caffeine and made immeasurably desirable by its candy sweetness and electric-bright colors.  Older children are clearly the target market.  College-aged kids right down to those only slightly bigger than a yardstick get their hands on this stuff, and then get tipsy or outright drunk.  Many turn up in hospitals, and it’s only a matter of time until some wind up dead.

My grandmother allowed us small sips of her beer, but that doesn’t approach the seriousness of what this represents.

One of the good things about alcohol is that eventually it makes you sleepy.  It is almost a kind of natural inhibitor because the sleepier you become, the less likely you’ll continue drinking.  Since Loko Four and other drinks in the same category contain caffeine, the drinker stays awake longer, and so can consume more alcohol.

What’s the first thing a kid does when confronted by a huge pile of candy, like on Halloween?  Well, duh, the kid will eat until they get sick.  Now imagine that same personality trait in a child with a big, sweet, colorful drink.  Yep, they’re going to drink too much, only now instead of an upset tummy, we’ve a far more serious situation and possibly a hospital visit.

One of the darkest memories of living in Edinburgh, Scotland, was being awakened by noisy 12-year olds at 2 or 3 am.  (Who lets their 12-year olds out that late?)  The bedroom windows were made of rickety wood, and the glass was as thick as paper, which meant that every sound from the street below came into the room uninvited.  Conversation sounded as if from right in the room, so shouting sounded, well, like shouting, which tended to wake one up in the middle of the night.  On these occasions, at least four that I can remember, five or six boys around twelve were running or staggering up the street while shouting, singing and laughing.  These weren’t 20-somethings celebrating Scotland winning the World Cup; these were children, obscenely early-in-the-morning, obviously drunk.  Their words were slurred and their balance was suspect.  Half of them were carrying large bottles of hard cider.  Hard cider is very popular in the UK, partly because it is very cheap, but also because it can be found in every corner store.

In the United Kingdom, and Scotland in particular, under aged drinking has become a huge problem.  Not only are there present and future health issues to consider, but these drinking binges often turn violent.

The American version of this is Loko Four, which is becoming popular among kids — and in this group I include college students, most of whom are still kids, albeit big kids — and which can all too easily be obtained.  An increasing proportion of juvenile crimes involve this stuff.  Don’t let your kids or your grandkids get their hands on these kinds of drinks.  And the parents of college kids need to carefully monitor the healthy and not-so-healthy habits they develop at the guilt-free and responsibility-free environment of a college campus.

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