Reports of teenagers inserting vodka-soaked tampons in their vaginas and rectums have been circulating the last few days, but it's not the first time this risky phenomenon has been reported.
Skeptics are questioning the legitimacy of claims that teenagers are using unpleasant-sounding methods of getting drunk faster -- largely because the Legend of the Vodka Tampon is a more than a decade old, and because news stories on the topic have not cited firsthand accounts of the phenomenon at work.
Then again, it's certainly understandable that a high school sophomore might not want to go on the record for having gotten drunk from the use of vodka tampons or through butt chugging.
For those of you unclear on what butt chugging is, here's the definition of butt chug from Urban Dictionary:
Similar to a beer bong, but the consumption of beer is rectally, using a funnel and tube to administer the beer as an enema. The primary purpose of butt chugging as opposed to drinking beer is that alcohol administered as an enema has 3x the effect of alcohol taken orally.
Reason.com published excerpts from news reports on vodka tampons that go all the way back to 1999, when Reuters reportedly ran a story about Finnish girls soaking tampons in vodka to accelerate the effects of alcohol. IBTimes was unable to locate a direct link to the story, but the report -- apparently titled Thrill Seeking Teens Dump Tampons in Vodka -- is excerpted in numerous locations, and what appears to be the full text of the story is reprinted here.
Reason.com cites resurgences of vodka tampon coverage in 2003, 2009, and March 2011. IBTimes also located a 2008 discussion thread on About.com questioning the legitimacy of vodka-soaked tampon news reports.
This time around, a story from KPHO News, a CBS affiliate in Phoenix, Ariz., is popping up on news sites and social media feeds everywhere. The report includes input from a doctor and a school officer, but no teenagers or parents who have witnessed the alleged craze.
What we're hearing about is teenagers utilizing tampons, soak [sic] them in vodka first before using them, Officer Chris Thomas, a school resource officer, told KPHO.
It gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream. There's no barrier, there's no stomach acid to prevent it, and vomiting will not happen in the case of overabundance.
There's been documented cases of people going to the hospital with alcohol poisoning just from utilizing it that way, Thomas said.
Direct-to-the-bloodstream methods of alcohol intake are thought to provide a quicker high, Dr. Dan Quan of Maricopa Medical Center told KPHO. They think it's going to last longer, it's more intense.
If teenagers are actually getting drunk from butt chugging and vodka tampons, they're not doing themselves any favors.
A lot of people believe it would cover it up, your breath won't smell like alcohol so you can hide it from the parents, hide it from police, Thomas told KPHO. But breathalyzer tests measure the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream.
The medical risks are also increased. A person who has ingested too much alcohol directly into his bloodstream will not vomit, but will likely lose consciousness.
If the person does pass out or lose consciousness, health care professionals won't necessarily know that they have to look in those areas and that may delay treatment, Quan told KPHO.
Thought the KPHO report is one of the very few that cites outside sources, the comment section indicates that few readers are taking it seriously.
Look, let's just agree that most of us HATE teenagers with the searing passion of a thousand angry suns, one reader wrote. Teenagers are good-looking and not tied down with families, mortgages and underpaid, dead-end jobs. They are a daily reminder to us all, mature and sensible adults, that our own relevance is slipping away just a little every day. So quite reasonably, we hate them and their undeservedly perfect behinds. But, can we please be grown-ups here (hint! hint!) and not make up ridiculous bullcrap in order to rationalize our enduring and utterly predictable resentment of youth?
Another wrote: Dear Breann and Elizabeth [the KPHO reporters], Please refrain from ****-chugging before you write and submit any more articles. If you two get the urge to write more stories like this, I would recommend soaking a tampon in vodka and then slapping yourselves in the face with it. This should snap you back to reality.
And yet another had a concern about vodka tampons unrelated to potential alcohol poisoning, and expressed said concern in full capital letters:
I KNOW BOYS WILL BE BOYS SO IM NOT WORRIED ABOUT MY SON HITTING THE BOTTLE ONCE IN A WHILE BUT I AM CONCERNED THAT PUTTING A TAMPON IN HIS REAR COULD MAKE HIM GAY.
Some are skeptical about the logistical ease of getting a bloated tampon into a bodily orifice.
Aunt B., who writes for a blog called Tiny Cat Pants, tested the legitimacy of the vodka tampon legend in a home laboratory, and published the results (with photography) in a blog post titled In Which I Debunk the Vodka-Soaked Tampon Myth.
Aunt B.'s experiment concluded that it would be difficult if not impossible to comfortably insert a tampon into a vagina or rectum after it had been soaked in alcohol, because the alcohol would damage the applicator and significantly increase the size of the tampon.
What do you think? Slow news day, or should we really be concerned about vodka soaked tampons and butt chugging?
Ellen Killoran is the Media & Culture Editor at IBTimes. She previously contributed to The L Magazine, Brooklyn Magazine, and The Daily, and co-produced the HBO...