hand sanitizer

Just when you think it can’t get any crazier in the teen antic scene, think again.

ABC News reported earlier this week about “Teens Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer”. (April 24, 2012) I’m having a hard time getting over the gross factor involved in squirting hand sanitizer in your mouth and swallowing (I can hear the “eeewwwws!” from here). But, apparently kids have found yet another way to use idle time, escape reality, okay to just be dumb.

About 2,600 cases have been reported in California since 2010, but it’s become a national problem.

“It’s not just localized to us,”  Helen Arbogast, an injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles,  told ABC News today. “Since 2009 we can see on YouTube it’s in all regions of the country. We see it in the South, in the Midwest, in  the East.”

Liquid hand sanitizer is 62 to 65 percent ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, the main ingredient in beer, wine  and spirits, making  it 120-proof.  To compare, a bottle of vodka is  80-proof.

“A few swallows is all it takes to get a person to get the intoxicated effects of alcohol,”  Rangan said.

Teenagers use salt to break up the alcohol from the sanitizer  to get a more powerful dose. These distillation instructions can be found on the Internet in tutorial videos that describe in detail how to do it. Other troubling videos have surfaced online showing  kids laughing as they purposely ingested sanitizer, many boasting of  fulfilling a dare.”


It doesn’t stop there. Meriam Weiner with US News & World Report in “The Choking Game and Other Dangerous Games Your Kids Should Avoid” (April 16, 2012) warns us about a few other ways kids are finding a buzz.

A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down, but a spoonful of cinnamon … that’s an entirely different story.

It sounds like something you’d see on the television show Iron Chef, only the seemingly innocent “cinnamon challenge” poses an alarming number of risks for kids and teens who take it on. (The goal: to swallow a spoonful of cinnamon without washing it down with water.) Over the past few months, emergency rooms and poison control centers throughout the country have been flooded with calls from panicked parents and concerned school nurses about this prevalent trend.

But cinnamon isn’t the only ingredient that kids are challenging. Milk, marshmallows, water, and even oxygen (rather, lack thereof) can stimulate kids’ competitive edge. More than 6 percent of eighth graders have participated in the extremely dangerous “choking game,” which involves cutting off oxygen intake by strangling to produce a light-headed, fuzzy feeling, finds a new study published in Pediatrics by the Oregon Health Authority and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 1995 and 2007, approximately 82 kids ages six to 19 died after playing the choking game, according to the study.

Kids—usually in their teens—cut off their oxygen supply to induce a warm, fuzzy, light-headed sensation similar to feeling high, except that they’ll still be able to pass a drug test. The key to this “game” (also known as the fainting game, seven minutes to heaven, tapping out, or sleeper hold) is to relieve the pressure just before losing consciousness. However, by cutting off their air supply with belts, ropes, or their bare hands, kids are putting themselves at risk for brain damage, stroke, and even death. While your kids may pass a drug test with flying colors, there are ways to tell if they’re finding that feeling in a different way. According to the Mayo Clinic, clues that your child is playing the choking game include unexplained bruises around the neck, frequent headaches, bloodshot eyes, and disorientation.

That’s it for now. Thanks to MOAT Nancy for giving me a heads up about the hand sanitizer. It’s so important to walk the road together and keep each other informed. How else would we know about things like Boozy Bears or P-9?

What’s the key to keeping these out of you kids’ repertoire? Probably talking to them. Lots of talk – not at, but with. Plus, you know me though, I think a load of meaningful work goes a long way in building a kid’s self esteem so they aren’t looking to these strange activities to find their identity or to escape life. Family responsibilities constitute such meaningful work and anchor a child, reinforcing the truth that they belong, are needed and a necessary cog. Kids thrive on and rise to high expectations. Let’s keep it high, not low.

And can we just call a spade a spade? Drinking hand sanitizer is about as low as it goes. Just sayin’.

Thanks for walking the road with me.


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