From the “Really?” file, another way for kids to get high and sick has emerged. This one is not a national trend … yet. And because it requires drinking something that you might normally spread on your hands after going into a public restroom, maybe it won’t catch on.
But, forewarned is forearmed. And with the Internet able to spread “challenges” at the speed of light it’s probably a good idea that parents are aware of this one.
Some teens are drinking hand-sanitizer to get high. Not surprisingly they are ending up in the emergency room incredibly drunk and sick.
Recently, six teens from the Los Angeles area were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning after downing the germ killing agent.
The Los Angeles Times reported some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer using instructions found online. If a liquid hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, that means a "drink" can be as high as 120 proof, whereas a shot of hard liquor such as whiskey or vodka is typically 80 proof.
"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times. "There is no question that it is dangerous."
The teens showed symptoms of slurred speech and a burning sensation in the stomach. Some of them were so drunk they had to be monitored in the emergency room.
Los Angeles emergency rooms had not reported any other cases before this sudden spurt of ER visits. The teens did not come in all together but as separate incidents.
It’s not only Los Angeles that has seen this situation pop up in its emergency rooms. Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said he has taken care of some teens who had ingested hand sanitizers at school as a "dare," only to come to the ER drunk with dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
"They denied drinking any 'alcohol', had no smell of alcohol on their breath, but when their blood alcohol was quite elevated, they later admitted to drinking the hand sanitizer," Glatter told HealthPop.
Doctors told the L.A. Times that parents should purchase foam hand sanitizers since they're harder to extract alcohol from compared with gel-based products, and they should monitor hand sanitizer bottles around the house as if they are liquor or medicine bottles.
"Over the years, they have ingested all sorts of things," Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told the Times. "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."
Apparently there is no limit to what some teens will do to get a buzz on, hopefully this venture will end quickly. The yuck factor alone should help.