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‘Four Loko’ Blamed For Hallucinogenic Frenzy

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Four Loko
natasha-brown-web Natasha Brown
Natasha Brown is the Emmy Award-winning anchor for the weekend eve...
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WARMINSTER, PA (CBS) – Four Loko carries the normal labels associated with any alcoholic drinks, even largely displaying the 12 percent alcohol content, but for one Bucks County family, no amount of warning could have prepared them for what they say happened to their loved one.

“It was like he was stuck inside a horror movie and he couldn’t get out and I couldn’t’ get him out,” said Mary Alice Brancato, recounting a scary incident involving her husband last Summer.

Brancato and her seven children watched in fear as her 43-year-old husband spiraled into a hallucinogenic frenzy.

“One of the older kids said he was going to drink a Four Loko and my husband said ‘ok I’ll try one.’ I came back home at about 8 o’clock and he was beyond intoxicated.”

Brancato says after drinking just one and a half cans of the caffeinated alcohol drink, the suburban dad began having nightmarish delusions.

“In his mind, he had harmed all of our kids and he had to kill me and kill himself so that we could go to heaven to take care of them.”

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

“Next think I know, he was having convulsions making gurgling sounds as if someone were choking him and then he stopped breathing.”

Brancato’s 20-year-old son performed CPR and revived his dad who was whisked away to the hospital. To this day, he says he doesn’t remember what happened.

“One can is a substantial amount of alcohol, its equivalent to a 6-pack of light beer,” said Dr. Robert McNamara of Temple University Hospital.

McNamara says Temple has been seeing more and more cases involving caffeinated alcoholic drinks and underage drinkers, and while he believes Brancato’s case is rare, the affects of mixing a depressant and stimulant are dangerous.

“That is an extreme case, but it just shows you what you’re getting in just one can,” said Dr. McNamara. “It packs a wallop.”

State legislators are looking to ban the drink in Pennsylvania, with testimonials like the Brancato’s leading the fight.

“When you have the executive director of the liquor control board saying to the 17,000 beer distributors to voluntarily cut off the sale of Four Loko, then you know there’s a real problem,” said State Representative Paul Clymer of the 145th District.

Eyewitness News placed a call to the Chicago based company that makes Four Loko. They referred us to a statement just released on their website. They believe they’re taking the brunt of the scrutiny over products like this saying in part:

“If mixing caffeine and alcohol is the most pressing concern, addressing it would be best accomplished by creating laws that apply to the entire caffeinated alcoholic beverage category–not specific individual products.”

Reported By: Natasha Brown, CBS 3

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