Teenagers (well, really people in general) will go to great lengths to get high on the cheap, and in recent years the speed of the Internet has made rumors of putting vodka in their eyeballs and inserting vodka-soaked tampons seem legit (and some are). Still, there’s no way to argue with the recent events at Los Angeles-area hospitals: several teens have shown up with alcohol poisoning after adding salt to hand sanitizer and drinking it, which creates the equivalent of a shot of hard liquor.
From the LA Times:
“All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager,” said Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “There is no question that it is dangerous.”
Although there have been only a handful of cases, Rangan said the practice could easily become a larger problem. Bottles of hand sanitizer are inexpensive and accessible, and teenagers can find distillation instructions on the Internet.
The concept is probably not all that new, but is instantly gross and ensational because now is the time for parents to rush home and hide their hand sanitizer or replace the regular gel kind with the foaming kind as doctors suggest (the latter is more difficult to convert to alcohol) — everybody panic. Of course, without hand sanitizer there will still be cough syrup, vanilla extract, mouthwash, and countless other sneaky pete ways for teens to get a buzz aside from getting hold of an actual bottle of alcohol, especially since it only sounds like they just want to try the stuff out. Does the fact that curious teens are going through such trouble to have some form of alcohol, and are risking their lives to do so, suggest that our attitude towards teens having access to alcohol needs to change?