Adolescents and Young Adults Presenting to the Emergency Department Intoxicated From a Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverage: A Case Series

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Abstract

We describe a case series of emergency department (ED) visits for intoxication related to the use of the caffeinated alcoholic beverage Four Loko. Medical records from the 4-month period July to November 2010 were hand searched for key words such as “intoxicated,” “caffeinated,” “Four Loko,” “alcohol,” and “EtOH.” Patients were included if they were younger than 25 years. Eleven cases were included. Eight (72.7%) patients presented during October 2010. The median age was 16.4 years; 90.9% were under the legal drinking age of 21 years. Seven (63.6 %) were male patients. All arrived by emergency medical services (EMS). Four patients (36.3%) were found in high-risk settings, with altered mental status on subway tracks, in public buildings, or parks after dark. Two patients had blood alcohol concentrations greater than 200 mg/dL. Six patients (54.5%) had emesis. Two patients (18.2%) were admitted to hospital, 1 each because of seizures and persistent tachycardia. Patients intoxicated with Four Loko were younger than the legal drinking age, found in high-risk situations, and often admitted to the hospital. Many of these patients used EMS and resources in the ED for alleviation of adverse effects of Four Loko.

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