It has been reported by the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles that teens have found a new and very dangerous method of getting drunk and it is by drinking hand sanitizer. In the past couple of weeks there have been 16 teenagers in and around Los Angeles treated for alcohol poisoning after ingesting the liquid. The hospital said that a handful of the teens were distilling the liquid, which usually contain 60 percent ethyl alcohol. They were using salt to separate the alcohol from the rest of the contents. If done correctly, the resulting liquid is 120 proof shot, which is 50 percent higher than vodka or tequila, according to Doctor Cyrus Rangan. Rangan is the medical toxicologist for the California Prison Control System. Experts suggest that parents treat the hand sanitizer in their homes much like liquid alcohol and keep an eye on it.
“If a person has never had alcohol before, they can get drunk almost instantaneously,” Dr. Calvin Lowe said. “It’s very, very dangerous.”
Hand sanitizer is just the latest popular method for teenagers to get drunk these days. In previous cases, teenagers were using mouthwash and cough syrup to get drunk quickly. A panel from the Food and Drug Administration in 2010 considered requiring a prescription to purchase any product that contains dextromethorphan. This ingredient is in a variety of over-the-counter cough and cold medicine. The proposal was voted down by the panel.
“Teens have always been looking for things around the house to get high, so they don’t have to go to a drug dealer,” says Rangan.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, the substances most often in poisonings of teenagers includes the following (the most recent date is from 2010):
Ibuprofen — 10,030 calls
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft) — 8,419 calls
Acetaminophen (adult formula) — 7,995 calls
Atypical Antipsychotics (Ablify, Risperdal) — 7,319 calls
Benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax) — 7,192
Alcohol — 5,061 calls