Leave it to the young folk to find even more creative ways to get drunk. The latest fad among college students for drinking, as well as those watching their waistline, is smoking alcohol, better known as drunkorexia to calorie-conscious party-goers.
Based on YouTube videos and tutorials, which have been popping up online, here’s how it works: Alcohol is poured over dry-ice, then heated up and inhaled through vapors using a straw. An alternative DIY method called “bike-pump” can be used by pouring alcohol into a bottle and vaporized with pressure from the bicycle pump.
So why all the fuss when throwing back a few shots could do the job just as easily? Doctors say that the trend, despite being dangerous, has led many to believe it’s “healthier” and a proactive way to lose weight while partying, since no calories are being consumed.
Quite the contrary.
“People think it is a great way to get the effects of alcohol without gaining the weight, because alcohol has an enormous amount of empty calories. You can’t be ingesting a lot of alcohol if you’re on a diet and want to lose weight,” CRC Health Group’s Dr. Deni Carise told Time. “I think adolescents are also particularly susceptible to this, because it is novel and exciting.”
“Novel and exciting,” maybe, but the practice of smoking alcohol is also very dangerous. When alcohol is smoked, the alcoholic vapors go straight from the lungs to the brain and bloodstream. While it works much more quickly, not to mention more potently, than being metabolized through traditional drinking, the risk for alcohol poisoning is much higher. Since the body’s natural mechanism is to purge alcohol when too much is consumed, circumventing the consumption process omits one way for the body to prevent poisoning or overdose. Alcohol is, as you guessed it, poisonous to the lungs.
“It’s also terrible for your lungs and nasal passages,” Dr. Carise said. “Your lungs are not meant to inhale something that can turn back into a liquid. When you think of liquid in the lungs, you think of drowning.”
The process of being able to alcohol is also risky, since it’s nearly impossible to monitor how much alcohol is being smoked. Knowing the traditional shot glass size (generally between 1 and 1.5 ounces on average) and weight in pounds, one can calculate one's limits given the 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, level or what is considered “binge drinking” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC. But measuring a cloud of vapor smoke is nearly impossible.
This latest trend follows other questionable drinking practices like the eye-socket method called eyeballing, where drinkers pour alcohol directly into the eye, or what's called butt-chugging, where a funnel or alcohol-soaked tampon is inserted into the anus.
Still, though, many people who want to drink without the extra calories in their day are succumbing to the dangers of the drunkorexia trend. “I figured I could have my cake and eat it too," Broderic Allen of Texas told Fox’s KCTV-5, adding that he lost 80 pounds by smoking alcohol with dry ice. But still, he remains aware of the dangerous risks. "If you do it too much at one time ... it just kind of overwhelms you," he said.
Dr. Harris Stratyner of Caron Treatment Centers in New York told the New York Daily News that he is looking to have the practice banned in the U.S. "This is a stupid, highly dangerous thing to do," he said. "The fact that youngsters, in particular, can purchase the equipment for a relatively cheap price -- this has to be made illegal."