Teens ingesting hand sanitizers to get drunk

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A dangerous trend among teenagers on the mainland has, fortunately, not made its way here to Hawaii yet. Still, we thought it was important to warn parents about an everyday household product that some teens are using to get drunk.

Invincibility seems to come with the territory when you're a teenager. Some teens are gulping hand sanitizer - that ubiquitous product found in just about every hallway and countertop - to get intoxicated.

"Certainly, if teens or adults drank it, they could become drunk from a reality small amount," says Hawaii state toxicologist, Barbara Brooks.

Liquid hand sanitizers are more than 60% ethyl alcohol or ethanol. Ethanol is the main ingredient in beer, wine, and spirits, and just one small bottle of the product is equivalent to one-and-a-half shots of vodka.

In California, health experts call it a dangerous trend. Here in Hawaii, teens know about it. "A lot of kids do it to get the feeling of the alcohol inside their system," says 16 year old Joshua Aquino.

But the state department of health says it's not a widespread problem. "I don't want to try it. I don't want to get sick," says 16 year old Justin Dowkins.

The Poison Control Center has tracked only one case of a Hawaii teen intentionally ingesting the product. That child went to the hospital, was treated and released, with no lingering effects. Brooks says, "Parents should just talk to their teenagers, and talk to them about the dangers of drinking this, and monitor the use of the hand sanitizers around the home."

Teens have gotten drunk off everything from mouthwash to cough syrup to vanilla extract - so it's fortunate this trend hasn't taken hold here. Health experts also point out that, used correctly, hand sanitizers are very effective in killing germs and preventing illness.

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