Teens drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk

The Associated Press is reporting that teens have found another use for hand sanitizer – an affordable and available way to get drunk.

From The AP via USA Today:

“Teenagers are showing up in Los Angeles emergency rooms after drinking inexpensive liquid hand sanitizers to get drunk.”

“Cheap and easily accessible hand sanitizers contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol.”

“The Los Angeles Times (http://lat.ms/HXEj9v) says six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.”

“Some of the teens used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink similar to a shot of hard liquor. Distillation instructions can be found on the Internet.”

“Although there’s only been a few cases, county public health toxicology expert Cyrus Rangan says it could signal a dangerous trend.”

Growing up in the 1980s in the suburbs of Atlanta, Robitussin was the legal and available drug of choice. It could be found at your friends’ houses or easily bought at the local drug store. I didn’t know kids smoking pot but I knew a whole heck of lot of kids drinking Robitussin.

I’m just impressed that the hand sanitizer is at least the right type of alcohol. At least ethyl alcohol is consumable. Rubbing alcohol is another desperate choice and one not for consumption. (All the other ’80s teens remember Kitty Dukakis.)

According to the Betty Ford Center:

“Rubbing alcohol is not ethyl alcohol (beverage alcohol), but isopropyl alcohol, a totally different chemical than the alcohol of beer, wine, or liquor.  The lethal dose of isopropyl alcohol by mouth in adult humans is about 8 ounces.  Another kind of poison is wood alcohol.  This is methyl alcohol and it breaks down in the liver to formaldehyde.  Those who survive after drinking it often suffer permanent blindness.  As little as 2 ounces of wood alcohol can be fatal.”

The 2010 book “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” by  Deborah Blum, goes into great detail about Americans drinking rubbing alcohol and wood alcohol during Prohibition. It has terrible stories of the effects of these alcohols, which are clearly not meant to be drunk. (So at least the hand sanitizer is consumable, although probably not a great comfort.)

So what do you think: Will you be locking up the hand sanitizer with the bourbon and tequila? Have you heard of teens doing this? Will you ask your teens if they have heard of this or tried this? Would you notice if hand sanitizer was disappearing at a rapid rate?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, Momania on ajc.com

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Times is reporting more numbers the hand sanitizer drinking trend. Here’s what they are finding:

“The California Poison Control System has received 60 reports of teenagers drinking hand sanitizer since 2010, showing the dangerous trend is not unique to Los Angeles.”

“Hand sanitizer, which has 62% ethyl alcohol, produces a potent drink that can cause alcohol poisoning. Some of the cases involve teenagers who used salt to separate out the alcohol.”

“There were also 147 cases involving children ages 6 to 12 and 2,180 cases ages 0 to 5, believed to have accidentally ingested the gel, according to poison control service, part of the UC San Francisco’s Department of Clinical Pharmacy.”

“The vast majority of all the cases statewide were minor and treated at home, but about 50 of the youths went to a hospital or were referred to a hospital for treatment.”

“In Los Angeles County since March, there have been 16 cases of teenagers requiring medical attention, according to the California Poison Control System.”

“Officials began separately tracking hand sanitizer cases in 2010.”

37 comments Add your comment

Realitymom

April 25th, 2012
6:19 am

Teenagers are common sense STUPID!

shaggy

April 25th, 2012
6:54 am

Here’s an original idea, use soap and water to “sanitize”. You are not about to perform open heart surgery; you are just cleaning the kitchen. If you just really have to kill every germ in North America, just mix an ounce of chlorine bleach with a quart of water, in a spray bottle. pffff pffff = dead germs. If the little morons drink that stuff, just chalk one up to Darwin.

I am shocked to learn that Theresa was a Robitussin head. Those kids were scared of a joint, but ready and willing to render their kidneys into so much rotting flesh, because it was legal, so it must be OK, right? I stayed with the kids that were organic…moonshine…REALLY good moonshine, in what we called hunch punch. Golden Grain worked for this purpose, but our crusty old moonshiner never checked IDs. Yes, weed was part of the fun and we even searched (and found abundant) cow pastures for ’shrooms.
It’s OK, I stopped wandering around in cow pastures years ago…the landowners were getting to be better shots.

Jeff

April 25th, 2012
6:58 am

The thing about cow pastures is that you have to watch out for the bull. Then again, you don’t have to be faster than the bull, just not the slowest person out of all of your friends.

Kids will experiment and that’s all there is to it. Sadly, some of the experiments nowadays are more dangerous.

Common sense never played much of a factor when a teenager wants to try something.

Shadow

April 25th, 2012
7:20 am

kids in the 60s were trying Alka Seltzer and coke, smoking dried banana peelings, And binaca breath drops on your cigarette filter. here we are 44 yrs later and whats changed ???? Nothing ! Face it Kids are Stupid!

Yousee

April 25th, 2012
8:00 am

they sure as hell will be after this promotion you morons

mark

April 25th, 2012
8:24 am

At least they aren’t smoke pot. That stuff will………………. not kill you or harm you. I think it is time to tax and regulate. maybe these kids will switch to cigs or beer. I heard they are harmless. that is what the camel told me and that dog spudz.

the kids are not stupid, our laws are. we are the idiots who continue to elect these idiots that refuse to look at the science not some lobbist from the beer and tobacco companies.

Augusta

April 25th, 2012
8:30 am

I wonder, who was the first one to look at some hand sanitizer, and go….hmmmm, I think I’ll drink some of this and see what happens???

sybil

April 25th, 2012
8:37 am

I love the internal organ sanitizer.

Augusta

April 25th, 2012
8:43 am

Augusta

April 25th, 2012
8:43 am

Ooops *Amen*,,,,,my fingers are working faster than my brain this a.m.

iggy

April 25th, 2012
8:57 am

Right now Im high as a kite from drinking this delicious elixir!! Thanks for the tip!

JATL

April 25th, 2012
9:01 am

Good grief! I’m with shaggy -don’t have hand sanitizer around! If they go buy it on their own to get wasted on, they’re idiots.

I also never got the Robitussin thing. I never even heard of it until I was an adult! I guess you city kids were more “advanced” than those of us in the country who just smoked weed and got the town drunk to buy us six packs from the gas station. After the amount of the disgusting Robitussin my mom shoved down my throat for coughs as a child, I would rather smoke a J any day!

☺☻Have A Smile!

April 25th, 2012
9:07 am

OMG THINK OF THE CHILDREN! WE’VE GOT TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN from another over-blown fake “epidemic”.

;)

Techmom

April 25th, 2012
9:11 am

I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have locks on the liquor cabinet or kegerator… I think I’d rather our son drink a regular ol’ 5% alcohol beer than resort to hand sanitizer. Good thing we aren’t germaphobes- he’d have to go buy some if he wanted to drink it.

Most Interesting Man

April 25th, 2012
9:11 am

I don’t usually drink hand sanitizer, but when I do, I drink Purell.

BADA BING

April 25th, 2012
9:19 am

Whitens your smile, freshens your breath……..very handy!

whos the smart one

April 25th, 2012
9:21 am

OK Moms out there. What perscription drugs (you know the good kind of drugs , the ‘legal’ kind) are currently in your home? You can bet that your kids have tried all of them. If you thik they haven’t, just look in the mirror the see who the stupid one is. Hand sanitizer, really, that’s your concern???????

whos the smart one

April 25th, 2012
9:35 am

everyone knows hand sanitizer is a gateway to robitussin, which is a gateway to alcohol soaked tampons, which is a gateway to sniffing glue, which is a gateway to computer duster, which is a gateway to candy cigarettes, which is a gateway to real cigs, which is a gateway to beer, which is a gateway to liquor, which is a gateway to ……..drumroll…….the god father of all gateway ‘drugs’ and the root of all evil in our society, the fuel for rampant crime and mayhem, the devil weed itself, POT. Once the kids are on the pot, it’s all down hill from there. We’re all going to hell. BTW did I remember to give Sally & Tommy their ADD pills today, those things are great, they are so less rambunctious and easier to parent when they take their pills, they saty still for the pictures I post on Facebook better too, aren’t they cute. Now what am I goning to do with all these hand sanitizer coupons I’ve been clipping, darn it’s hard being a mom

theresa

April 25th, 2012
9:48 am

Shaggy I have never taken robitussin for anything other than a cough and never touched a drug or cigarette. I never got drunk until college and I was 21. (I had an occassional drink before 21 but was never drunk.)

iggy

April 25th, 2012
9:56 am

I drank some toilet water once but only got sick. No high whatsoever.

JATL

April 25th, 2012
9:59 am

@who’s the smart one…HAHAAAAAAAA! Good one! Now where is that ritalin? I need to get this house in shape!

JOD

April 25th, 2012
10:20 am

HAHAHAHA – the posts today are hilarious!

I guess I missed out on Robitussin in high school, and didn’t find out about hunch punch until college. Don’t. Eat. The. Fruit.

Every day there’s some new stupidity…

atlmom

April 25th, 2012
10:31 am

And this is why drugs should be legalized…

DB

April 25th, 2012
10:43 am

There is no end to the ingenuity of the teenage mind . . . *sigh*

LOL at the “I drink Purell . . .” THAT was funny!

Father Christmas

April 25th, 2012
11:12 am

Old enough to remember getting high from model airplane and car glue. Downside was it came with a nasty headache.

Hammy Swaz

April 25th, 2012
11:18 am

Gurgle gurgle… mmmmm.. deeeelish!

Valstake

April 25th, 2012
11:39 am

I obviously didn’t have a life in high school (other than working once I turned 16.) Never tried drugs or alcohol. I drink beer now, and the only drugs in my house are blood pressure medications and Ibuprofen for pain relief. Guess I still don’t have a life.

iggy

April 25th, 2012
12:22 pm

“Guess I still don’t have a life.”

You need to get busy. Synthetic MaryJane, Purell, modeling glue, banana peels, fermented apple juice! You are missing out!

BADA BING

April 25th, 2012
12:37 pm

It’s the parents’ fault. Back when I was young, if you said something bad, they would tell you to wash your mouth with soap! Now they are doing it for fun.

Miss Priss!

April 25th, 2012
12:39 pm

Let’s see, I believe a huge number of adults drink beer, booze, and wine to the point where they lose their jobs, kill others, and destroy themselves and their families. Adults. Who should know better. Go figure.

BADA BING

April 25th, 2012
12:43 pm

Remember when your mother would spit on a kleenex and clean your face when you were a child? Well, now that would finally be OK.

iggy

April 25th, 2012
12:59 pm

Here is a tip. Drinking a bottle of Ms Butterworth will give one hell of a sugar rush.

Augusta

April 25th, 2012
1:15 pm

Try shooting a tablespoon of cinnamon…another rage amongst teens….

BADA BING

April 25th, 2012
1:21 pm

D I A L
Drunk
Is
A
Lifestyle

Steve

April 25th, 2012
2:14 pm

I knew a guy (of adult age) that would drink Brut aftershave.
Didn’t Kitty Dukakis also drank aftershave and hairspray.

iggy

April 25th, 2012
2:30 pm

Ms Kitty Dukawfulus drank strait from the isopropyl bottle.
Ms Kitty from Gunsmoke fame drank whatever the saloon had to offer and Matt Dillon wouldnt marry her due to here being a full blown alcoholic, amongst other things. ;)