WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA9) -- The images are all over YouTube: young people inhaling the fumes from liquor. The methods they use are
crude, such as vaporizing the alcohol with air pumps or pouring the booze over
dry ice, then huffing.
"If you do it too much at one time, it kind of overwhelms you," says Broderic Allen.
Therein lies the problem, say medical professionals. Smoking
liquor sends it straight to the lungs and brain, thus bypassing the
Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the Director of the Georgia Poison Center, says "Smoking alcohol is like a night of binge drinking in an instant."
"You are getting that immediate high and that's the dangerous part," says Dr. Kirsten Hawkins, the Chief of Adolescent Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital here in Washington, DC. "You are not realizing how much you are getting.
"Binge drinking for a male is 5 drinks in a row.
For a young woman it is 4 drinks in a row. So they may effectively get 4
or 5 drinks of alcohol by inhaling the vapors in a short period of
This could lead to alcohol poisoning or overdosing, which can be life threatening, warns Dr. Hawkins.
while there isn't any actual scientific research looking into a
correlation between lung damage and inhaling alcohol, she believes the
possibility is there.
"We can compare it to other things that are
inhaled. And we know that our lungs are not meant to be inhaling
[illicit] medications, alcohol, and tobacco.
"The other issue too is the infection risk. If kids are
inhaling at the same time there's concern for Meningitis. We know that
Meningitis is more common in young adults and teenagers. So if they are
sharing the same bottle when inhaling that's another risk associated."
So what's the attraction for those who do it? In Broderic Allen's
case, he says he smokes alcohol to avoid calories. "Once you lose the
weight, you want to keep it off. So I figured I could have my cake and
eat it too."
However, medical professionals say you are still getting calories. Dr. Hawkins also warns, "We do know that when you are under the influence of alcohol, you are more likely to eat as well. So that might defeat the purpose."
The videos on the web also claim you can hide your liquor consumption
from parents and police by inhaling the vapors. This is false too.
You can still get a DUI the same as if you drink. Plus, it's against the
law for anyone under 21 to consume alcohol, whether it be by drinking
it or smoking it.