Parents warned about dangerous teen trend

April 25, 2012 4:35:45 PM PDT
We warned parents about the dangers of the teens abusing cough medicine to get high in the past. But doctors say there is a new trend among adolescents and it's being seen more and more in emergency rooms across the nation.

It's pretty disgusting to think about, but counselors and doctors tell us teens are now turning to hand sanitizers to get high. It's all the main ingredient is often alcohol. Doctors warn the effects can ultimately be deadly.

Six teens in California were hospitalized on separate occasions, after doctors there say they drank hand sanitizer to get a buzz. It's something Covenant House counselor Petrice Holmes says is just another cheap, easy way teens are getting high because they're not afraid to try it out.

Holmes explained, "When the kids are trying to get that high, they don't think about any of those things. They don't think about the long-term consequences, all they're trying to do is achieve the high."

Dr. Michael Van Meter with Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center says hand sanitizers are made up of roughly 65 percent alcohol. With this high concentration of alcohol per ounce, just a sip or two can impair a person. Dr. Van Meter says the number of reported cases nationwide continues to climb.

"The American Association of Poison Control Centers actually has some data that shows that every year over the last five years or so, every year they've had increased reports of about 2,000 per year."

We concealed a teen's identity who told us that just as today's youth abuse cough syrup to get a buzz, hand sanitizers are just the next trend to hit the streets.

"They're trying to go to this to see what the effects are and everything and what it can do to you (with no fear)," the teen said.

Dr. Van Meter says teens are suffering the same effects as adults do when they have too many cocktails -- slurred speech and impaired movement. But the effects of this type of abuse can be far worse.

He said, "The concern there is that you become so intoxicated that you stop breathing and that definitely happens more when you mix that with other drugs."

For this teen, dealing with drug and alcohol addiction, is an everyday challenge.

"Drugs and alcohol can hide my pain, can hide what I'm feeling inside, but it really can't."

Doctors say it's important parents educate their children about just how dangerous ingesting hand sanitizer can be.


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