Dirty Secret: Some teens getting drunk off hand sanitizer
There is a dirty little secret when it comes to the readily available sanitizers we use to keep our hands clean. With many of these products containing alcohol, more and more teens are using them to get a buzz.
Alcohol and drug abuse experts say we haven't seen many cases like this in our are, still the potential for it exists. "A lot of them have alcohol some more than 60% or higher and a small container can have the equivalent of 4 shots of vodka," said Sue Nowak, a Marathon County alcohol & drug prevention specialist. When the alcohol is separated through a distillation process it becomes even more potent.
In Los Angeles medical experts recently called this news conference to talk about the problem after a dozen teens were hospitalized with alcohol poisoning. "A shot glass of this product, there's certainly the risk that someone who is young and adolescent can become intoxicated with once shot," said Dr. Chris Holstege from UVA Health System.
With the hand gels readily available in our homes and businesses, an even bigger risk may exist for young children. Nowak remembers the case of a young girl who became sick after eating the sanitizer in school. "She had consumed a the gel in school and had to be hospitalized. The blood tests showed up clear but then other students remembered she had been licking the sanitizer off of her hands."
Hand sanitizers join a long list of potentially dangerous household products like cough syrup and mouthwash. While they are aimed a keeping us healthy leave us sick when they end up in the wrong hands.
Substance abuse programs are the focus of a series of community meetings planned in the Wausau area next fall.