You’d think that someone drinking hand sanitizer was obsessed with keeping their insides as clean as their outsides. But no, in a disturbing new trend, teenagers are actually consuming the alcohol-based liquid as a cheap substitute for liquor. Since kids don’t have access to alcohol, they are actually using the chemical cleaning agent to get drunk.
Recently, six teenagers were brought into San Fernando Valley emergency rooms for alcohol poisoning from hand sanitizer consumption. This got public health officials worried so they started issuing warnings to parents and teachers about the hazards involved with ingesting hand sanitizers. According to Cyrus Rangan, a medical toxicology consultant at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, “All it takes is a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager.” He believes that although the practice isn’t widespread yet, it has all the potential to balloon into a huge issue. Since hand sanitizer bottles are very easily available and inexpensive, the trend couldn’t take very long to catch up. It doesn’t help that distillation instructions are easily available on the internet; kids can separate the alcohol from the sanitizing liquid with just a little salt.