FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Gabe Sierra thinks of himself as your typical college student.
Sierra, 19, admits he’s experimented with alcohol, but even he says a popular drink is going too far.
He’s talking about Four Loko, dubbed “Blackout in a can.”
“One of my friends decided to bring a bunch of Four Lokos and I never tried it that was the first time I tried it,” Sierra said.
The drink is becoming very popular among teens and college students. It combines what some doctors call a dangerous mix of alcohol and caffeine.
Sierra says he didn’t drink much in high school, but on prom night in May he decided to try Four Loko.
“I had three; that was just stupid, I’m not going to lie,” says Sierra “I felt like my heart was going to pop out of my body; it was going crazy.”
Sierra says he wanted to go to the hospital but blacked out.
“I thought I needed to go to the emergency room. I just laid in my bed. I was just too scared to wake up my mom and tell her,” said the Tarrant County College freshman.
Doctors say Sierra is lucky. Each can of the fruit-flavored drink has 12 percent alcohol and is sold for about $2.49 at most gas stations.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism one can of Four Loko is equivalent to drinking four to five beers. It has as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
“This is not a good combination,” said Dallas physician Dr. Paul Worrell.
He said mixing caffeine and alcohol can have a confusing effect on the body and could trigger heart problems.
“Somebody could pass out from this; they could lose consciousness,” Worrell said. That’s what happened to Sierra.
“I just want other people to know their limit because one can got to me,” Sierra said.
Another problem some advocacy groups have with the drink is how it’s marketed. hey say the neon colors and oversized cans can pass off as any other energy drink.
The drink made national headlines after authorities in Washington State said it was the reason that nearly a dozen college students got sick and had to be rushed to the hospital after a party.
The Food and Drug Adminstration is looking into the drink. Several states want to ban the drink but Texas is not one of them.
Phusion Projects, the company that makes Four Loko, says it’s a shame their products are abused by underage drinkers.
The group Texans Standing Tall, which helps prevent youth alcohol, tobacco and drug use wants Attorney General Greg Abbott to investigate these products and their safety.