The main focus of recent news reports on hand sanitizer abuse is curious teens exploring ways to achieve euphoric effects, but this method of intoxication has been seen before. Teens have easy access to hand sanitizer in dispensers at schools, over the counter at drug stores and around the house.
Consumption of products containing alcohol that are not alcoholic beverages is a tactic used by chronic alcoholics. Chronic alcoholics have been known to drink household cleaning products, rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer in order to continue their alcohol dependency.
The New England Journal of Medicine documented a prison inmate using hand sanitizer to achieve drunkenness, drinking from a gallon container over the course of several hours. Officials reported that he became combative, loony and highly intoxicated. In the Journal of Critical Care Medicine, a report was published documenting that from 2005 to 2009, the number of individuals who swallowed hand sanitizer increased by 1,894 per year. The American Association of Poison Control Centers’ combined data that in 2006 there had been more than 20,000 exposures to hand sanitizer poisonings.
A label on all hand sanitizer products warns that they are for external use only and, if ingested, the Poison Control Center should be called immediately. What is not listed on the label is the harmful impact of consuming hand sanitizer in your body.
Most young people are not concerned with the negative physical effects of drinking hand sanitizer. In their opinion, the affordable euphoria outweighs the consequences. No further research has been conducted about the long-term damage from hand sanitizer abuse.
Although this article discusses teen substance abuse, substance abuse if not addressed directly will graduate into addiction. A teen’s perception of a good time may lead to more hardship as a young adult and the need for drug and alcohol addiction treatment. No matter a person’s age, alcohol abuse and addiction cause significant distress to educational, occupational and social functioning.
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