Really? Teens Trying to Get Drunk on Hand Sanitizer

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Here’s a new one. Some Los Angeles teens are going to great lengths to get buzzed by drinking hand sanitizer.

Six teens were admitted for alcohol poisoning in two San Fernando Valley hospitals over the last few months after consuming cheap liquid hand sanitizers. The easily accessible cleansers contain 62% ethyl alcohol and can make a 120-proof liquid.

According to the Los Angeles Times, some of the teens used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, relying on instructions from the Internet. The amount of alcohol they ingested was enough to cause slurred speech and burning sensations and land kids in the hospital.

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“All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager,” Cyrus Rangan, the director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told the Times. “There is no question that it is dangerous.”

Another health expert advised parents to buy foam hand sanitizers instead of liquid since it’s harder to extract alcohol from foam brands, and suggested that parents monitor the alcohol-based cleansers as they do liquor and medicines, the Times reported. Rangan worried that drinking hand sanitizer would become a phenomenon.

But are a half-dozen cases of hand-sanitizer ingestion enough to merit something as a “troubling trend”? Over the years teenagers have tried consuming all kinds of over-the-counter products to get high, from cough syrup to nutmeg to vanilla extract. And need we remind you of the so-called i-dosing craze, which involved teenagers donning headphones and listening to “digital drugs” — mainly a droning noise — that supposedly caused a state of ecstasy? That trend triggered a frenzy among parents and even led to schools banning iPods.

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As long as there’s a place called the Internet (which gives you step-by-step directions on how to distill hand sanitizer, along with media stories about it), teenagers will find inventive ways to get high. But these fads usually pass in a couple of mouse clicks. When Lil Wayne starts rapping about “sanitizing syrup,” then maybe we should start to worry.