April 25, 2012
Teens Drinking Hand Sanitizer To Get Drunk
The adolescent years are notoriously difficult. Teenagers have a myriad of problems and issues to navigate through in addition to learning new societal roles and dealing with a rocky sea of hormones. Taking these things into consideration, it almost makes sense why some teens choose to experiment with drugs and alcohol. However, with drugs and alcohol becoming increasingly difficult to obtain as a youngster, some teens go to extreme lengths to either find the same effects of alcohol or act out in increasingly disturbing ways.
Making headlines this week is a story about teens drinking hand sanitizer in order to get drunk. And these teens aren´t just taking it straight; They´ve concocted a way to get the alcohol from the sanitizer, increasing the effect from the dangerous cocktail.
According to news sources, 6 California teens have been hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer. Now, health officials worry this will become an alarming new trend for teens.
Hand sanitizer is incredibly accessible, as nearly any public place now has stations available for general use. Those teens with a few dollars in their pocket can also purchase the hand sanitizer over the counter, no questions asked. Once the teens have acquired the sanitizer, they search the internet for recipes and instructions on how to increase the alcohol content. Most of these recipes reportedly call for salt, which pulls the ethyl alcohol from the sanitizing solution. Health officials say this concoction could have the same effect as a shot of hard liquor. Some doctors even say the kids are taking shots of up to 100% alcohol.
“They´re looking at recipes online for how to remove the alcohol, and so they´re probably getting pretty close to what is called grain alcohol strengths of alcohol,” Dr. Billy Mallon, who works at the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, told KTLA, a Los Angeles news station.
“There is no question that it is dangerous,” he added.
Teens reportedly experience blurred vision and slurred speech, just as they would feel with real alcohol. However, this potent mix can cause further, worse damage, such as a burning stomach, diarrhea and even irreversible organ damage.
Although it may seem quick to raise questions about an upcoming trend, health officials are concerned with how many students have already been hospitalized. Whereas there haven´t been any cases in the past of teens drinking hand sanitizers, having 6 cases reported already in 2012 is cause enough for alarm, according to experts.
These teenagers are also videoing their antics and posting them to YouTube. A simple search yields several videos of teens eating or drinking what may or may not be hand sanitizer. These youths may be ingesting the stuff in earnest, hoping to get drunk or simply see what happens, or they may just be pretending to take the stuff for the shock factor.
Dr. Mallon told KLTA, “It doesn't sound appealing, but you have to remember that kids don't have access to alcohol so they're very creative.”