MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A dangerous teen trend may be news to some parents, but it's happening everywhere. Teenagers are getting their hands on alcohol without an ID by turning to a common household product: hand sanitizer.
Teenager Demetrius said his friend wanted a new buzz, so he took a bottle of hand sanitizer into a movie theater. He recalled that his friend was sick and falling over.
"We just really wanted to get drunk off of something," Demetrius said. "They took him to the ER. He was on the edge of, like, dying."
"It's a very dangerous practice," said Dr. Daniel Sumrok, an addiction specialist with UT Medical Group. "Again, some of the hand sanitizers have alcohol percentages as high as 70 percent, which would correspond to 140 proof liquor."
That is a much higher alcohol percentage than a stiff drink contains.
Dr. Sumrok has seen people die from drinking hand sanitizer.
"The main danger is in the acute setting. It's immediately after ingestion," Dr. Sumrok explained. "It causes very high blood alcohol levels that can actually be fatal. I've seen it many times cause alcohol poisoning."
Many kids get the idea from their peers, several of whom uploaded videos of themselves drinking the substance.
Medical professionals say parents should look out for this growing teen trend.
Prevention specialists say you can buy alcohol-free foam sanitizer to keep your kids safe. Soap and water works just as well, too.