“Smoking Alcohol”; A Lethal Trend

Recently doctors have become very concerned about the recurrent trend of “smoking alcohol” that appears to have gone viral and spread among the youth.  Smoking alcohol is an innovative and alternative method to drinking alcohol that works by applying high pressure to a drink which creates alcoholic vapors.  Alarmingly numerous self-posted videos can be accessed on social media sites that display young people inhaling these alcoholic vapors from homemade devices.

Drug Free Communities of Fond du Lac County along with several doctors are strongly urging people to avoid smoking alcohol because of the many associated dangers involved.  According to Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital, smoking alcohol is much different than drinking alcohol.  When a drink is consumed, it slowly passes through the stomach, then the intestines, and enters the bloodstream through a process known as absorption. The alcohol is metabolized and broken down.  Alternately, when alcohol vapors are inhaled, the metabolic breakdown pathways are bypassed and the alcohol moves directly into the lungs, bloodstream and ultimately the brain.  Because of this, smoked alcohol is much more potent and an individual will feel it’s effects within seconds.

Doctors also note that smoking alcohol significantly increases the probability of alcohol poisoning. “The normal sensation when you drink and are getting drunk is to vomit: It’s your body’s way of expelling alcohol,” explained Dr. Glatter. “However, when you inhale alcohol, your brain has no way of expelling it.” He also points out that there is no possible way to accurately measure the amount of alcohol being inhaled which constitutes a dangerous game of chance.

It is important to identify the common myths about smoking alcohol to stop it from spreading.  First, several people believe that smoking alcohol can help with weight loss because it omits the calories that are otherwise consumed from sugary mixed-drinks. Doctors indicated that alcohol’s side-effects are clearly present when smoked; therefore, the calories are still being consumed.  Second, some young adults believe that smoking alcohol will help hide their intoxication from parents or police officials.  Again, the calories are still absorbed as well as the active ingredients that cause the effects.  No matter how the alcohol is consumed, it will be able to be detected by a breathalyzer that checks your blood alcohol content (BAC).

Dr. Brett Roth, medical director of the North Texas Poison Center in Dallas, recognized that there have been a number of alcohol fads in the past decade which all led to sobering consequences. With education and community prevention initiatives, we can hope that this lethal trend will soon become another alcohol fad of the past.

Prevention Steps:

  • Inform your friends and family about the dangers of smoking alcohol
  • Encourage others to refrain from smoking alcohol
  • Find healthy alternative activities instead of smoking alcohol
  • Know the symptoms and side-effects of alcohol poisoning

 

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