Friday, June 1, 2012

Ulster Prevention Council Blog 6/1/12: Eyeballing, Vodka Tampons, and Drinking Hand Sanitizer

Eyeballing vodka is a practice that has gained popularity with college and high school students in Europe and the U.S. It involves either pouring a shot of vodka directly on the eyeball or holding the bottle to the eyeball and upending it. Those who do it claim that vodka eyeballing induces drunkenness faster than drinking it can, because it passes easily through the mucous membrane and enters the bloodstream directly through veins at the back of the eye, although some experts are skeptical about the claims and believe that those who do it simply convince themselves that it's having such an effect. Vodka eyeballing can cause sore, weepy, bloodshot eyes and lead to permanent eye damage.

Vodka tampons may have originated in Germany.  Youth believe that it gives them a quicker, longer high, and that they can avoid detection as they will have no alcohol on their breath. Females insert the tampons in their vaginas, and males insert them in their rectums. A super tampon holds about a shot of vodka. The alcohol gets absorbed directly into the bloodstream fairly quickly, because of the vascular structure.  There is no gag reflex, so youth won’t throw up if they have alcohol poisoning, and if they lose consciousness health professionals won’t necessarily know what is wrong, delaying treatment. Using a beer bong rectally follows the same concept, and is referred to as “butt chugging”.

Drinking hand sanitizer is another troublesome practice, particularly as the product is readily available to underage youth. Hand sanitizer is 62-65% ethyl alcohol (120 proof). Drinking 2 ounces of it is equivalent to drinking 3 ounces of 80-proof tequila. The American Association of Poison Control Centers say that nationwide in 2011 they received 622 calls related to hand sanitizer exposure. Thus far in 2012, the number of calls is already over 200.

The trend has become mainstream enough for Jimmy Kimmel and John Kusack to drink Purell in celebration of Cinco de Mayo on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Later in the show Cusack asked Kimmel, "Do you feel the Purell kicking in?". "I feel cleaner inside," Kimmel said. Cusack agreed, adding, "It's lemony. It's fresh."

Youth are finding ways to separate the alcohol from the gel, making it more palatable. An internet search showed that simply using salt appears to be the most common method. Diluting the gel is also common. Others distilled it to isolate the disinfectant’s ethyl alcohol, leading to a shot that can be three times as alcoholic as vodka. Using less appealing foam sanitizer rather than gel serves to deter youth.

Granted, youth have used mouthwash, cough medicine and vanilla extract in the past in order to obtain alcohol. However, teens who are engaging in behaviors such as these to get an alcohol high should be evaluated for larger substance abuse problems.

Cheryl DePaolo
Director, Ulster Prevention Council
85 Grand St.
Kingston, NY 12401
Voice: 845-458-7406
Fax: 845-458-7407
Cell: 845-392-4714

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