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Is Drinking Hand Sanitizer the Latest Trend?

Is Drinking Hand Sanitizer the Latest Trend?

Is Drinking Hand Sanitizer the Latest Trend?

Kids can be pretty creative in their pursuit of a cheap buzz.  Recently there has been a huge spike in the number of teenagers who were hospitalized after drinking alcohol based hand sanitizer.  In fact, last year alone there were 622 cases reported.

While no one has died from drinking sanitizer, ethyl alcohol is toxic and can have unintended consequences when used the wrong way.  Effects include slurred speech, diarrhea, blindness, damage to internal organs, memory loss, and a burning sensation in the stomach.  Effects have the potential to be life threatening, but it really depends on how much is ingested, and how often.  Sanitizers are typically 60% ethanol, which means they are 120 proof.  If you drink two ounces of it, it’s like drinking 3 ounces of 80 proof tequila.

So, why all of a sudden does this seem to be a problem?  Essentially, this is not a new concept for teenagers, just a new product to try.  Many people may recall past attempts to get a buzz by drinking mouthwash, or Robitussin cough syrup.  As a result, mouthwash now has a much lower alcohol content, and many retailers have moved cough syrups behind the counter.  Since hand sanitizer is inexpensive and readily available, it’s popularity has increased dramatically.  It doesn’t seem to help that tutorials that teach kids how to distill sanitizer are readily available online.

It is suggested that sanitizers be monitored in the same way as alcohol or medication.  Another option would be to switch to alcohol free sanitizers, or to consider a foam alternative, since it is harder to distill.  However, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that millions of people use these products responsibly.  Teenagers who intentionally ingest hand sanitizer to get an alcohol high have symptoms of a larger problem, substance abuse.

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