In Drugs & Addictions, Parenting Help

Are Teens Drinking Hand Sanitizer?

drinking hand sanitizer

Regardless of the generation, teenagers, and others have always found a way to get “high”. This high has included sniffing glue, smoking incense, swallowing mouthwash, drinking rubbing alcohol and drinking hand sanitizer.

These substitutes for getting drunk or high signal a potential addiction problem and should not be ignored. If you, or your child are drinking medical products, or know of someone who is, please get help or refer your friend to a treatment center. The risks of consuming a product that is not meant to be processed by the body are permanent health problems and the ultimate sacrifice of death. This is not something to be treated lightly, or even “tried” just to fit in or from peer pressure.

If you are a parent, speak with your children about the proper way to use these products. Give them the facts about using them inappropriately and explain the risks associated with poisoning. An open discussion between you and your child is the best armor you can give him or her to protect your child from the suggestions of others. You do not want your child surprised when a classmate on the bus offers a drink of hand sanitizer to get high. You want your child armed with important information and the correct responses to say no in a polite, but respectful way.

Hand Sanitizer

Drinking hand sanitizer may not ever appeal to you, as typically, the smell is overwhelming enough, but others have found the alcohol content in the tiny bottles to provide a drunk, or “high” feeling- that is if they avoid poisoning themselves from the toxic chemicals. Many hand sanitizers do not list all the chemicals in the product, so you do not know for sure what you are ingesting.

Hand sanitizer was made to provide a quick substitute for cleaning hands when soap and water is not available. According to the New York Times, these alcohol-based sanitizers are effective in preventing the spread of such things as intestinal bugs or for washing your own hands after you sneeze. Hand sanitizers do not work if your hands are soiled with dirt, blood or feces- in that case soap and water is the best option.

Hand Sanitizer Bad?

For a hand sanitizer to be effective, it must contain an alcohol concentration over 60 percent. In sanitizers with less than 60 percent alcohol, the product will not kill microorganisms and simply spreads them around the hands instead.

The best way to use a hand sanitizer is to cover your hands generously with the gel or foam. You should vigorously rub the fronts, backs and in between your fingers with the gel for longer than 15 seconds. If the product dries within 10 or 15 seconds, you need more to effectively sanitize your hands.

Is Hand Sanitizer Bad For You?

Hand sanitizers are not bad when they are used for their intended purpose. Most hand sanitizer ingredients include a high concentration of ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol. According to ABC News, ethanol is the primary ingredient in beer.  While hand sanitizer concentration of alcohol can vary, most hand sanitizers contain a minimum of 60 percent ethyl alcohol, which is approximately 120-proof. In comparison, a bottle of Vodka is 80-proof. When people ingest a bottle of hand sanitizer, it is essentially similar to drinking two shots of hard liquor. A person could easily get drunk from drinking hand sanitizer and within a short amount of time. Some teens add salt to hand sanitizer to increase its effects. This distillation technique is spread throughout the internet, to which most teenagers have easy access.

Effects of drinking hand sanitizer include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Non-responsiveness
  • Potential for a coma
  • Liver, kidney or brain damage with prolonged use

Hand Sanitizer Dangers

Drinking hand sanitizer can result in alcohol poisoning and a visit to the Emergency Room. The small bottles of hygienic products currently require proof of age to purchase- no longer can teens buy hundreds of bottles from the dollar store. This is one way to help reduce the problem, but parents can also talk with their children about the dangers of ingesting medications.

One preventive option is to purchase the foam sanitizer instead of the gel, but the foam typically contains at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol too, but the alcohol is more difficult to extract, according to the New York Daily News.

Can You Get Drunk Off Mouthwash?

The New York Daily News warns of the ethyl alcohol concentration in some mouthwashes as well. But not all do yet since teens do not have access to drinking alcohol, they sometimes will drink whatever they can find to elicit the “high” feelings.

Unfortunately, drinking mouthwash can do more harm than alter the mind. Mouthwash should not be swallowed as it contains ethyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, chlorhexidine gluconate and methyl salicylate.

What Happens If you Swallow Mouthwash?

Mouthwash is not meant to be swallowed, especially in large quantities. If you, or someone you know swallows mouthwash, look for the following symptoms, given by The National Institutes of Health, which may signal an overdose:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Coma or unresponsiveness
  • Eye burning or other cornea damage
  • Dizziness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Slurred speech
  • Decrease in blood pressure or heart rate
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Skin rash
  • Change in breathing- rapid, shallow or slow
  • Decrease in blood sugar
  • Decrease in urination
  • Sore throat
  • Lack of coordination

Contact the poison center from anywhere in the United States if you or someone you know is experiencing an overdose of mouthwash. The poison center can be reached at 1-800-222-1222. You should seek medical attention immediately and depending on the severity of your overdose, be prepared to:

  • Be given Charcoal
  • A series of examinations including X-Rays and EKG’s
  • Be attached to an IV for fluids
  • Receive breathing support if needed
  • Be given a laxative
  • Require a stomach tube if needed
  • Receive kidney dialysis if the condition is serious

Your prognosis depends on how quickly you receive medical attention. Drinking mouthwash is not a healthy or acceptable way to get drunk. It can lead to serious health issues and an expensive medical bill.

Can You Get Drunk off Rubbing Alcohol?

If hand sanitizers and mouthwashes aren’t bad enough, some people resort to drinking rubbing alcohol for mind-altering effects. Rubbing alcohol contains isopropyl alcohol, which is different than the ethyl alcohol contained in liquor, beer and wine. Isopropyl alcohol is absorbed and used by the body in different ways than ethyl alcohol. Although you may experience drunk effects, the dangers associated with drinking rubbing alcohol include over-intoxication and death.

According to the Betty Ford Center, an expert on addiction, treatment and recovery, rubbing alcohol can cause death when more than 8 ounces are consumed. This amount is different for everyone, so smaller doses can do just as much harm. The body quickly absorbs the isopropyl alcohol in the rubbing alcohol, so a person experiences the drunk feelings faster, but the line between intoxication and death is almost non-existent.

When a person’s mind is altered, he or she may consume more rubbing alcohol than intended and not recover from the episode. Plus, rubbing alcohol may contain more chemicals than the isopropyl alcohol. These other poisons are toxic to the body and are not made to be consumed. Most people will vomit after drinking rubbing alcohol and others have experienced physical symptoms such as a burning throat.

Get Help

If you or someone you know is resorting to drinking hand sanitizer, swallowing mouthwash or drinking rubbing alcohol, you have the signs of an addiction problem. Most addicts will consume anything and everything to get their “high” even if their drug of choice is not available.

It’s important to learn alternative ways to deal with the overwhelming issues of life and a trained therapist, counselor or doctor can help you find relief and return on your healthy path. Recovery centers off in-patient and out-patient treatment programs so you can maintain your job and family while you are in recovery.

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