Hand sanitizer is the latest trend in drinking for underage teens, worrying doctors after six young people were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning in California from drinking the antibacterial solution to get drunk.
Containing 62 percent ethyl alcohol, teens are using hand sanitizer as a quick way to get drunk, as the gel is the equivalent of a shot and a half of hard liquor. The trend has been evident on YouTube with teens posting video footage of chugging hand sanitizer cocktails.
According to the Los Angeles Times, teens used salt to distill the alcohol from the sanitizers with instructions easily found online, leaving a 120 proof shot stronger than most whiskeys and vodkas at 80 proof.
All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager, Dr. Cyrus Rangan of the Children's Hospital Los Angeles told the Los Angeles Times. There is no question that it is dangerous. It is kind of scary that they go to that extent to get a shot of essentially hard liquor.
Rangan said the teens experienced symptoms of slurred speech and a burning sensation in the stomach after consuming the hand sanitizer cocktails.
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Dr. Young-jin Sue, toxicologist at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx, told the New York Daily News that she hasn't witnessed any cases of hand sanitizer consumption, but warns of its hazards.
Teens don't have access to ethyl alcohol so they resort to crazy things, she said. It's very concentrated, just a few ounces can make someone sick.
California doctors are reportedly warning parents of the fast-growing trend, urging them to keep hand sanitizers out of reach for teens. The practice is extremely cautionary as hand sanitizer is readily available and cheap, sold in drugstores nationwide.
Bizarrely enough, this is not the first time teens have found a way to get drunk from makeshift substances other than alcohol. In recent years, many teens were doing shots of cough syrup, which contains ethyl alcohol, in order to get a buzz, prompting many pharmacies to keep the simple cold remedy behind counters and pharmacists.
While the Los Angeles Department of Health has not issued an official warning or statement, many doctors are suggesting that hand sanitizing products should have warning labels to raise awareness for parents and teens of the dangers of consumption.