Teens drunk hand sanitizer
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.”
How are the teens using hand sanitizer as a way to get drunk? They separate the sanitizer from the alcohol with salt. Up to 62 percent of the sanitizer formula has ethyl alcohol in it and when they make a cocktail out of it, the drink is equivalent to a shot of hard liquor with 120-proof alcohol.
"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," Cyrus Rangan, a California toxiology expert and official said. "There is no question that it is dangerous."
Using hand sanitizer to get drunks by teens is a fairly new trend that is rapidly growing. There's great cause for concern because the product is relatively inexpensive and easily accessible. Prior to this novel craze, cough syrup was doing the job for desperate kids wanting to get wasted. Will there be restrictions put on hand sanitizer if this continues to be a problem?
Mallon also said, “It doesn’t sound appealing, but you have to remember that kids don’t have access to alcohol so they’re very creative,”
This cheap and easily accessible hand sanitizer contain 62% ethyl alcohol and 120-proof after distillation. According to doctors it is a new way for teenagers to get drunk but this is very bad and harmful for health.
Still not so many cases have been reported but public health toxicology expert Cyrus Rangan said “It’s essentially a shot of hard liquor,” he also said that it could be a signal of dangerous new trend. Doctors must have to caution parents about this harmful trend.
“Over the years, they have ingested all sorts of things,” said Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “Cough syrup had reached a very sexy point where young people were using it…. We want to be sure this doesn’t take on the same trend.”