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Smoking Alcohol: A Dangerous Trend
In recent years young people have used the social media platform YouTube to show one another how to engage in many different kinds of risky behavior. Youth have been encouraged to soak tampons in alcohol, pour alcohol directly into their eyes and now, to smoke it.
Here’s how it works. The person is to drizzle alcohol across dry ice and then breathe in the fumes or suck them up through a straw. More industrious types are shown how to put alcohol into a bottle, cork the bottle, and then poke through the cork with the needle of a bicycle pump. Next they are told to pump air into the bottle. The alcohol vaporizes and users can then inhale it.
The idea of smoking alcohol is not completely new. In 2004 an Alcohol Without Liquid product appeared briefly on the market but was quickly banned by government regulators. That was 10 years ago. The idea is enjoying resurgence with homemade devices.
Smoking alcohol is popular with experimenting adolescents and fad-following college kids, but it is also gaining ground with some adults. Weight-conscious adults are smoking alcohol because they can get a buzz without consuming unwanted calories. Weight loss may be a worthy goal, but doctors say that inhaling alcohol is not the way to get there. In fact, they say the practice is inherently dangerous.
Breathing in alcohol vapor makes for a quick drunk because it speeds up the effects of alcohol. Unlike drinking, which forces alcohol to pass through the liver and stomach where it will be metabolized, smoking it sends alcohol straight into the bloodstream and brain. The consequent drunk comes on quite rapidly.
But it isn’t only a matter of getting drunk sooner than a person might expect. It’s also about leaving the body defenseless. Normally, when a person drinks too much the body will protect itself by vomiting out the offending substance. However, when alcohol is inhaled, the body has no recourse. This means that alcohol poisoning becomes a much greater risk. After all, people who smoke alcohol really don’t know how much alcohol they are taking in.
Think too, say physicians, about the damage being done to airways which are not designed to deal with caustic substances like alcohol. The lungs and nasal passages are not meant to handle alcohol.
Unfortunately, YouTube isn’t the only place where people are being encouraged to smoke alcohol. Drinking establishments across the country are offering Vaportinis to their customers. Vaporized alcohol is promoted as a calorie-free, carbohydrate-free way to enjoy the effects of alcohol. That may sound good – but the truth is it is a dangerous (and dumb) idea.