Six California teens showed up at the San Fernando Valley emergency room recently with slurred speech and burning stomachs. Some were so intoxicated that they needed to be monitored for hours. Nothing new about a bunch of drunk teens, right? But these teens didn't have to break into the liquor cabinet to get their fix. In fact their parents probably handed it to them as they headed out the door.

 

This new trend among teens? Getting drunk on hand sanitizer.

 

When I first read this story, I couldn't imagine how or why anyone could choke down a shot of nasty-smelling Germ-X just to catch a buzz. But it turns out, the process is more savvy than I'd imagined. Some teens use salt to isolate the ethyl alcohol in the product, breaking it down to basically a shot of hard liquor. Others have found the readily available distillation instructions online to accomplish basically the same thing.  

 

The result is a drink that can be as high as 120 proof. Pretty impressive — and dangerous — when you take into account that a standard shot of vodka is about 80 proof. It only takes a couple of gulps for kids to get dangerously drunk.  

 

What can you do as a parent to protect your kids? Nothing will stop them from buying over-the-counter hand sanitizer and trying this if they have a head full of steam to do it. But it's worth talking to them about it and letting them know how dangerous it can be. You may also want to switch to non-alcoholic versions of the hand sanitizer you use around the home. Or how about just plain old soap? Let them wash their mouths out with that for a change.

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