Drinking stuff you shouldn't drink to get buzzed is hardly a new idea. Think bathtub gin, just for starters. Soviet-era Russians pretty much turned the practice into an art form, if you can call it that. But recent reports of teenagers drinking hand sanitizer to get high are a lot more troubling than most in this genre.
In the unlikely event that there are lots of teenagers reading this, consider this a public service announcement. Not that we'd recommend raiding your parents' liquor cabinets or any available hotel minibars under ordinary circumstances, but maybe it's a better idea than doing shots of Purell.
Why hand sanitizer? Because it's 62% ethyl alcohol. And maybe because it's handy, especially since it's become trendy to attach tiny bottles of the stuff (sparkly colors, different flavors) to school backpacks. Since 2010, the California Poison Control System has received 60 reports of teenagers drinking hand sanitizer; since March 2012, 16 cases have required medical attention.
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Parents are being encouraged to keep hand sanitizer monitored or maybe to substitute gel versions of the stuff with foam. Right. Maybe washing your hands with soap would be a good idea, since doing shots of Dr. Bronner's isn't going to do much for you, even if you are 13 and desperate. Maybe if you're a parent it's also time to talk to your kid, possibly even over a watered-down glass of good wine, as people do in civilized countries. You'd rather have her drinking hand sanitizer?