It seems that every year some new way to get high or drunk finds its way into the underground using scene, each one more dangerous than the last. Recently, it's been found that college students are pouring alcohol over dry ice and inhaling the fumes that arise from it. One idea behind this, other than getting drunk faster, is to avoid ingesting calories from the drink. This, my friends, is a bad idea.
Dr. Harris Stratyner, Regional Clinical Vice President of Caron Treatment Centers in New York, said in an interview, "When you inhale alcohol, it goes directly into the lungs and circumnavigates the liver. The liver is what metabolizes alcohol, but when you inhale it, it goes directly from the lungs to the brain."
Doing this increases the chances of getting alcohol poisoning, he said. One of teh ways to avoid alcohol poisoning is the body induces vomiting. In this case, this cannot happen because there isn't any alcohol in the stomach. The liver is made it filter the blood from the stomach, but inhaling it passes up that process and all of the alcohol goes directly into your system. There is also the fact that inhaling fumes from dry ice causes damage to your lungs and respiratory system, as well as the nasal passages and the sinuses, which can lead to infections.
And pouring it over dry ice is not the only way that people are doing this. They are also using vaporizers or just pouring it into a 2-litre bottle and inhaling the fumes that way. There are even products finding their way onto the market now (soon to be banned, one might speculate) such as the "Vaportini" which is a device that heats up hard alcohol into fumes so you can inhale it. The product advertisement even goes so far as to say: "almost no calories; no carbs, no impurities and the effects of consuming alcohol are immediately felt, making it easier to responsibly imbibe."
"Your lungs have tremendous surface area to absorb (it), so you can actually absorb the alcohol much quicker. It's akin to binge drinking," said Utah Poison Control Executive Director Dr. Barbara Crouch. She elaborates that the inhaling process surpasses the body's safeguards that warn people they have had too much. So, one second you're feeling fine, maybe a little buzzed, but you can feel it coming on a bit, and then you're on the floor. It's a dangerous thing to do.
"Often times, when you drink too much, you start to vomit and you self-limit your absorption with it or you pass out," Crouch said. "Here, you can get a much higher concentration quicker and get to the danger point."
Law enforcement officials are also saying that they are seeing more people die from this kind of liquor consumption versus people who just drink it normally. Also, the officials are stating that people are beginning to think that if they inhale it, they can pass a breathalyzer test, but this isn't true at all. The test measures how much alcohol is in your blood, and very effectively at that, so don't think that is going to work.
And the science is there too, or lack thereof. Professor Chris Day, from Newcastle University and an adviser to Drinkaware, said in a statement: "Inhaling alcohol is a very new trend so there isn't yet any scientific data of the effects but it has the potential to be a very dangerous phenomenon and as such, we would advise people to be cautious if indeed they do decide to try it. "The fact that it bypasses your body's natural defence mechanisms against consuming too much alcohol means it is unsafe."