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