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Drinking Hand Sanitizer: Epidemic Or Hype?

Submitted by on April 25, 2012 – 1:15 pmNo Comment

And I thought drinking Natty Light was a gross way to get drunk in high school. But it turns out today’s youth are really desperate: six teens have been admitted to San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in recent months for chugging hand sanitizer to get drunk. But does six teens in one city really constitute “a troubling trend,” as the LA Times put it?

Several articles have made bold claims about the practices involved, including distilling the hand cleanser gel (which is 62% ethyl alcohol) with salt to get a more potent shot, and mixing it with Listerine to make a kind of cocktail. But no other cases are cited, so I guess all of these examples have to be credited to the original six teens.

Blog Buzzfeed dug up a some reports of the practice from Australia, New Zealand, and Albuquerque, but all of these involved hardened criminals, not high school students. The rest of the claims range from unsubstantiated to dubious. (A quick YouTube search for “drinking hand sanitizer” clearly shows that many of the videos are gross-out dares, not attempts to get drunk.)

I’ll believe that teens are willing to do a lot of stupid things to get high, from stealing prescription meds to chugging Robitussin to sipping Smirnoff Twists. But I think drinking hand sanitizer is so far just a lot of hype. With no substantiated facts and statistics, why are we already calling this a “sick new trend,” and telling parents not leave the stuff out in the open?

What do you think? Have you heard about or witnessed “hand sanitrippin?”

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