Teens Abuse Hand Sanitizer to Get Drunk

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It’s happened again—a new wave of teens has started experimenting with turning a common household item into a drug: This time it’s hand sanitizer.

The anti-bacterial cleaner is 62 percent alcohol, making it a higher proof than just about any hard liquor, and plenty hard enough to get a young adult drunk. It only takes a few pumps of the bottle for adolescents to reach the desired effect, but as at least six southern California teens found out in the last month, those same few pumps can lead to a pump of the stomach in the emergency room.

According to KTLA in Los Angeles, several hospitals in the Los Angeles area have seen a sudden flood of sanitizer-related cases. The admitted patients showed all the same signs of alcohol side effects, without any direct evidence of drinking. The low cost of sanitizer is no doubt a draw for adolescents, and online guides provide instructions on how to distill the liquid, providing a stronger dose. Even so, some choose to drink it right out of the bottle.

While a handful of teens with a taste for Purell doesn’t necessarily indicate a national crisis, parents have yet another product to add to the long list of troublesome over-the-counter drugs. Spray paint, cough syrup, compressed air, and the ever infamous jenkem have all gotten the same kind of press at some point. Young people continue to find new substances to abuse, and unfortunately the restriction of sales for widely available products such as sanitizer certainly won’t change that. The newest reports serve as a brand new tribute to the shrine of teenage ignorance.

But before running out and looking for all foam sanitizer replacements for their bathrooms and kitchens, parents should perhaps turn the focus on the youngsters themselves and have more of those necessary talks about the dangers of drug abuse. That conversation can certainly save them a shameful trip to the emergency room, and a potentially costly hospital bill.

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