Teenagers have long been known for raiding their parents liquor collection or finding a way to get someone to purchase beer and other alcoholic beverages for them so they can enjoy an adult pleasure. However, a new rising trend is causing alarm after six California teenagers were treated for alcohol poisoning in the same emergency room. Teens have long turned to household items containing alcohol when they couldn’t get access to the real thing. Cough medicine, mouthwash, and extracts are common items to be abused because of their high alcohol content. But hand sanitizer? That’s right. The six teens that were checked into the San Fernando Valley emergency room had become victims of alcohol poisoning by downing hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizers are very high in alcohol which is, of course, to help it kill germs and bacteria. Some enterprising teens are finding that it can also become a great substitute for liquor in a pinch, and prepared just the right way, it is strikingly similar in taste. By using salt, the alcohol can be extracted from the gel and then used as a makeshift shot of liquor. The resulting liquid is actually higher in alcohol content than a true shot of vodka. Some have even taken it further, finding ways to use distillation processes to get even higher alcohol contents. Experts say it can get as high as 120 proof in this situation. A normal vodka shot only weighs in at 80 proof, so these hand sanitizer-based shots are very hefty on the alcohol indeed.
It’s not totally unheard of. Prison inmates have gotten drunk off of hand sanitizer from time to time as well. Reports show that there is an alarming increase in cases of people having ingested hand sanitizer in the last few years. And to make it worse, many teenagers report that they did it over a dare or a bet. Many try to play off their symptoms as another illness to avoid getting into trouble. They try this because there is no alcohol smell left behind, partly because of the pleasant aromas that are often inserted into sanitizers as well. Doctors usually don’t fall for it, as the symptoms being reported are hallmark signs of alcohol poisoning. A simple blood alcohol level test usually reveals what the kids have been up to.
Consider this a Common Sense Conspiracy PSA. If you see signs that your children might be drinking in some capacity, remember that even if you purge your house of alcoholic beverages, the solution for teens might still be sitting on your bathroom counter or your medicine cabinet.