A new trend that has been emerging in recent years is smoking or inhaling alcohol instead of drinking it via an Alcohol Vaporizer.
Alcohol inhalation is done by consuming alcoholic beverages or some type of ethanol directly into the respiratory system. This is often done with a type of vaporizing device. While there are some medical purposes for inhaling vaporized alcohol, it is usually done for recreational use. The following information discusses why many people are choosing to inhale alcohol vapor, how this type of vapor is made, legitimate medical reasons to vaporize alcohol, different types of vaporized alcohol, and the dangers, facts, and treatment regarding this trend.
Why Do People Inhale Alcohol Vapor?
A lot of young people are inhaling alcohol vapor because they want to follow their friends and do something that is perceived as new and exciting. There are many other reasons that people of all ages have chosen to inhale alcohol instead of ingesting it in the usual way. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) states several reasons why people may decide to inhale or smoke alcohol.
- People sometimes choose to inhale alcohol vapors to get drunk or high without ingesting the calories that comes from drinking alcohol.
- There is a much quicker effect when a person inhales vaporized alcohol. The alcohol bypasses the stomach and liver, and through the lungs goes directly to the brain.
- Young people, even kids, can purchase the equipment necessary to vaporize alcohol for a relatively inexpensive price. This makes the latest trend to get high easy to access.
How is Vaporized Alcohol Made?
Before alcohol can be inhaled it must be changed from a liquid into a gas. This gaseous state is a mist or vapor that can then be inhaled. Using some sort of container hooked up to an air compressor, the air pressure can be increased inside the sealed bottle or container. The temperature inside the bottle increases as pumping is taking place. When the temperature decreases rapidly, condensation takes place.
Alcohol can be turned into a vapor using several different methods. Some people have been known to pour vodka over hot coals and then inhale the vapors. According to drugfree.org, college students are even pouring alcohol over dry ice and literally smoking the vapors. This is done using a narrow container and then inhaling with a straw. Others have taken a more technical route in developing methods to create vaporizer alcohol devices and then marketing the products.
What are the Different Types of Alcohol Vaporizer Devices?
People can even purchase an alcohol vaporizer for sale. A $700 machine called the Vapshot has been marketed for home use. The Daily Mail reported that the Vapshot Machine is a mini-vaporizing device that can be used at parties for quicker effects from alcohol. There is also a device on the market called the Vaportini. This method of inhaling alcohol vapors involves lighting a candle at the bottom of a standard pint glass. A metal ring, a glass sphere, a glass straw, and a plastic funnel are all used as well. Complete kits can be purchased online in the price range of $30 to $60. The Vaportini claims its device will work for alcohol that is 60 to 100 proof. The device is not intended for beer or wine.
Making a homemade alcohol vaporizer is even easier than the mechanics behind products that are on the market. Some kids have made alcohol vaporizers using a bicycle pump. After the alcohol is poured into a bottle with a cork, the air pump is used to make the vapor. The vapor is then inhaled. Carbon dioxide pills and asthma nebulizers are also used. Alcohol can even be free-based over a flame. This method also produces enough vapors for getting drunk through inhalation.
Are There Legitimate Medical Uses for Alcohol Vapor?
The Medicine Journal reported that in the 1950s inhaling vaporized alcohol was used as a treatment for pulmonary edema, which is a condition characterized by excessive fluid in the lungs. In 1954 this condition was resistant to other current forms of therapy. Using a 50 percent ethyl alcohol solution the sputum in the lungs became more liquid, making it easier to expel.
Another treatment involving inhaling alcohol vapors is for preventing alcohol withdrawal, especially after surgery and other medical treatments. Alcohol withdrawal can be fatal and doctors need to prevent Alcohol Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) when a patient is recovering from surgery.
The key, however, to these medical applications of inhaling alcohol is that it was overseen by the close supervision of a doctor and various medical staff. How much alcohol is inhaled as well as the actual blood alcohol levels is constantly being monitored.
What are the Differences Between Inhaling Ethyl Alcohol and Isopropyl Alcohol?
Ethyl alcohol is safe for drinking in moderate amounts while isopropyl alcohol is not. Isopropyl alcohol is what is known as rubbing alcohol and is not suitable for any type of ingestion. Consumption of isopropyl alcohol can be toxic or even fatal. When alcohol is converted from a liquid into a gas or smoke to inhale, the vapor pressure of the alcohol affects this process. Adding pressure to alcohol that is confined in a small space is what creates the vapor. The vapor pressure for ethyl alcohol is 5.95 kPa. The vapor pressure of isopropyl alcohol is 4.1 kPa. The Toxicology Data Network reports that isopropyl alcohol is more toxic than ethyl alcohol and has twice the effect of ethyl alcohol when depressing the central nervous system.
What Are the Dangers of Inhaling Alcohol Vapor?
Edinburgh based psychiatrist, Jonathon Chick, sites the potential dangers when inhaling alcohol fumes. He states that since the alcohol is not being broken down through the liver first, that there is a greater risk of damage to brain cells. There are several other potential dangers when inhaling alcohol vapors recreationally.
- Increased Risk of Infections – When alcohol is inhaled there is an increased chance of drying out the nasal passages and individuals become more susceptible to various infections. Inhaling can also damage the lungs and respiratory track, making a person more susceptible to lung infections such as pneumonia.
- Increased Risk of Addiction – Experiencing a rapid, more intense sensation that comes from inhaling can increase the chances of addiction. This “quick-effect” can reinforce addictive effects in an individual.
- Increased Risk of Overdose – Since the alcohol enters the bloodstream directly and the user doesn’t have an easy way to determine how much alcohol has been taken it’s easier to overdose. The body’s primary defense against alcohol poisoning is through vomiting. Inhaled alcohol can’t be purged from the body in this manner making alcohol poisoning and death a greater possibility.
- Severe Health Complications – Direct inhalation of alcohol vapors may cause nerve damage and possible brain swelling. There is even the possibility of bringing about dementia in the long term.
What are the Facts Behind Inhaling Alcohol Vapors?
According to the Iowa Substance Abuse Information Center there are several myths regarding the inhalation of alcohol.
- If alcohol is not drank, you can’t get arrested for drunk driving. The fact is that if the alcohol is in a person’s lungs, it will be on their breath.
- If alcohol doesn’t go through the stomach, there are no calories consumed. The fact is that calories are still being processed in the body.
- Alcohol affects the body the same no matter how it is consumed. The fact is that when people smoke or inhale alcohol it is much easier to overdose or get alcohol poisoning.
Treatment for Alcohol Inhalation Addiction
Some people may believe that since alcohol is being consumed in a different manner that addiction may not be as much of a problem when inhaling alcohol vapor. Studies reported by the National Capital Poison Center, however, seem to indicate the opposite. Research done on rats seems to indicate that continued alcohol inhalation leads to increased alcohol seeking behaviors. Changes in the brain lead to the desire for more and more alcohol. Alcohol withdrawal can also occur after enduring increased inhalation.
The Cornerstone Recovery Center states that those suffering from smoking or inhaling alcohol have different needs than those individuals suffering from general long-term alcoholism. The effects of using a method of sending alcohol straight to the brain opens the door to many dangers that go beyond normal drinking.