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Don’t Drink Hand Sanitizer, Media Warn, After Teens Land in Hospital

Posted on the 26 April 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost

Drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk - new teen trend

Is drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk really a new teen trend? photo: Mr. T in DC

Six teenagers were treated in hospital for alcohol poisoning in the Los Angeles area last week after reportedly drinking hand sanitizer – yes, that anti-bacterial stuff that leaves one’s hands smelling vaguely of citrus and toilets – in an effort to get drunk.

And now, it’s a “dangerous trend”, The Los Angeles Times claims. But is it really? Or is this yet another teen craze that’s not quite the plague that media make it out to be?

Remember sexting? As it turns out, it’s not really a thing among the kids these days.

What’s the story? According to The Los Angeles Times, the California Poison Control System has received 60 reports of teenagers drinking hand sanitizer since 2010, 16 reported cases in March and April alone. Most hand sanitizers contain 62 percent ethyl alcohol, words that are like magic to booze-starved teens; some reports suggest that teens are using salt to separate the alcohol from the gel, per instructions found on the internet, while others note that teens are also mixing it with mouthwash, which also contains alcohol. Doctors are now urging parents to keep hand sanitizer away from children, who may accidentally ingest the stuff, and adventurous teens, who may ingest it on purpose, and to perhaps purchase the foam version rather than the more easily drinkable gel.

Drinking hand sanitizer was originally a trend amongst prisoners.

Drinking hand sanitizer is a bad idea. This may come as a surprise, but drinking hand sanitizer is a bad idea. Why? For one thing, it can get you drunk really fast – one small bottle of hand sanitizer contains as much booze as five shots of hard alcohol. This may sound like a good and economic time to teens, but that’s what lands you in the hospital with alcohol poisoning. For another thing, it can cause diarrhea, blindness, and damage to internal organs – not to mention death, according to police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where bottles of hand sanitizer and mouthwash were found at the scene of a violent murder.

Jimmy Kimmel’s public service announcement: Don’t drink hand sanitizer

Gawker scoffs. Caity Weaver, writing at snark-tastic American gossip site Gawker, was less than impressed with this new trend (“more than one, less than six” appears to the qualification for a “trend”, she noted), but she did offer some helpful tips to the concerned parent. “If you suspect your teen has already been hypno-‘tized, look them in the eye and say, ‘Listen. If you’re going to drink hand sanitizer, like I know you are, I’d prefer you do it in the house.’ Then, hand them a small bottle and teach them this rhyme: Beer before liquor, never sicker./Liquor before beer in the clear./ Salt in the ‘tizer, never been wiser./ Chugging Purell straight, you are a dumb teen and I hate you.

Thanks for the tips, media. If teens weren’t really drinking hand sanitizer before, they are now, after the latest media blitz, observed Diatribes and Ovations blog. “Most teens might never have thought of this on their own but, now that they’ve seen it on the news and people are talking about it, they know that it works and how to learn more about going about doing it.”

Hand sanitizer isn’t really the problem. Though teen drinking in the US is actually on the decline, Stephanie Hanes noted at the Christian Science Monitor, 72 percent of American teenagers have consumed alcohol by the time they graduate high school (roughly age 18) and a whopping 37 percent have done so by the time they finish eighth grade (age 13). A number of American children’s health organizations have flagged up the figure as problematic and are urging parents and policy-makers to increase their efforts to reduce underage boozing, Hanes explained: “The message was clear: if we actually care about teen alcohol abuse, everyone needs to step up. Ponder that the next time you reach for the disinfectant.

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