Teens hospitalized after drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk
Six California teenagers have been hospitalised with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer, sparking concerns that this dangerous method of getting drunk will become an alarming trend.
Bottles of sanitizer contain 62 per cent ethyl alcohol, are inexpensive and accessible, and distillation instructions are readily-available on the internet.
Teens have been using salt to remove the alcohol, creating a potent drink that has a similar effect to drinking a hard shot of liquor.
‘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.
‘You’re talking 100 per cent alcohol is what they’re going to be left with.’
A few shots of the dangerous creation can cause a person’s speech to slur and stomach to burn, diarrhea, memory loss and even irreversible organ damage.
‘All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager,’ Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the L.A. 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,’ he added.
Although it only six San Fernando Valley teens have ended up in emergency rooms – last year there were no such cases.
There is also a plethora of videos on YouTube showing teens guzzling the sanitizer to get high, and passing out, intoxicated on the floor.
‘It doesn’t sound appealing, but you have to remember that kids don’t have access to alcohol so they’re very creative,’ Mallon told KTLA.
Similar trends have been observed with mouthwash, cough syrup and even vanilla extract.
Two homeless people in Albuquerque, New Mexico, recently died after drinking a mix of distilled hand sanitizer and mouthwash, according to KASA-TV.