As a legal and easily accessible substance, alcohol is consistently ranked the most dangerous, addictive drug in the world. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 15 million individuals in the United States suffer from alcoholism. 

The dangers of alcohol misuse are well-known, however, the statistics show that alcohol consumption is only growing. As stated in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,000 people die each year due to alcohol-impaired traffic accidents in the United States. 

While no alcoholic beverage is considered “safe” when consumed in excess, beverages like beer, hard ciders, and wine are lower in alcohol content and, therefore, dangerous levels of intoxication are easier to avoid. In contrast, there are beverages that contain dangerously high alcohol content and can cause physical damage and impairment after only one drink. These dangerous, alcoholic beverages include Everclear, Absinthe, Four Lokos, and Moonshine. 

alcoholism

Everclear 

This notorious grain alcohol is typically bottled and sold in its 190 proof form, double the alcohol content of most liquors which sit at 80 proof, or 40% alcohol content. Due to the dangers associated with Everclear’s high alcohol percentage, some U.S. states have prohibited the sale of 190 proof liquor. In response, the manufacturer of Everclear, Luxco, began distribution of Everclear at 189 proof, bypassing these state laws. Because Everclear is undiluted and 92.4% pure ethanol, the grain alcohol is also used as a household cleaner and disinfectant.  For an average individual, a cocktail containing one to two shots of Everclear would be sufficient in reaching dangerous levels of intoxication. 

 

Absinthe

Banned in the United States from 1915-2007, Absinthe is commonly referred to as the “green fairy” due to its hallucinogenic properties. Trace amounts of the chemical thujone were thought to be responsible for producing mild hallucinations where the user is known to see a small green fairy, however, upon the study of this occurrence, the appearance of a green fairy is now proven to be exaggerated and more of a pop-culture myth. With slightly lower alcohol content than Everclear, Absinthe is typically produced as a 90-146 proof liquor. As with any alcoholic beverage, the risk of endangering health increases with the amount consumed. Due to Absinthe’s potency, it is important to drink with extreme moderation.

 

Four Loko 

A Four Loko is a malt beverage and the most accessible among these alcoholic beverages. Typically found at gas stations or convenience stores, Four Lokos were temporarily banned in many U.S. states within years of its introduction to the alcohol industry due to the combination of alcohol and caffeine components present in the drink. Many argued that marketing for Four Loko purposefully manipulated its appearance to be mistaken for an energy drink, therefore appealing to younger populations. In 2010, the manufacturing company revised the ingredients to exclude caffeine and sales have been successful since this reformulation. Regarding Four Loko, the University Health Services Director at Harvard University has urged the public to remain responsible, stating that one 23.5-ounce can contain the equivalent of six standard servings of alcohol.

 

Moonshine

Our beautiful, southern Appalachian region is very familiar with this illicitly manufactured liquor. The name is derived from the time of day it is commonly produced to avoid detection. Throughout the years, states have lifted bans prohibiting moonshine, however, it is still illegal to brew liquor within a personal residence. Due to the reversing of these bans, moonshine has experienced commercial success in recent years. The proof of traditional, prohibition-era moonshine ranged from 63 proof to 190 proof, whereas today the proof ranges from 60 to 120 proof. Although strictly controlled, commercial moonshine still has high alcohol content and should be used in moderation. Illicitly manufactured moonshine remains very dangerous as the alcohol content is not strictly monitored and consuming this liquor should be avoided. 

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