Teens Getting Drunk on Hand Sanitizer [AUDIO]
If there's alcohol in it, somebody's going to drink it. That's the warning from local health experts, as a growing number of teenagers across the country have been getting drunk by guzzling hand sanitizer.
In some cases, teens use salt to extract the alcohol from the product. In others, the sanitizer is imbibed on its own.
The alcohol content of liquid hand sanitizer rivals that of some top-shelf liquors.
"Hand sanitizer is 62 percent alcohol," said Steven Liga, CEO of the Middlesex County Chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. "Your typical vodka is about 40 percent."
The "harmful" product can be found just about anywhere - schools, hospitals, grocery stores, and adults' purses to name a few spots. Plus, it's cheap. For that reason, Liga said trying to keep kids away from hand sanitizer is unrealistic. Instead, parents should educate their kids "and tell them not to do something stupid."
"Hand sanitizer has just become another household product that we need to be aware of that kids can use to get high, just like many of the products we keep under the sink," Liga explained.
Drunk-by-hand sanitizer cases have been monitored by officials since 2010, but the problem has spiked in the past few weeks. Six teens recently arrived at California emergency rooms with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.
A few "drinks" can cause someone to slur their speech and bring about other symptoms similar to being drunk.
While experts have advised parents to purchase foam-like sanitizer for their homes, instead of gel, Liga said teens can still get their fix off foam.
"It's the dispenser that makes it foam," he said. "If you get into the bottle itself, it's liquid.