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‘Smoking’ Alcohol: Is It Safe?

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sandramcneill Sandra McNeill
After graduating from the University of Michigan, Sandra McNeill...
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DETROIT (WWJ) - It’s a different way to get drunk. The practice of “smoking” alcohol is gaining popularity — and a local poison expert says it’s dangerous.

The idea is to use very high-proof alcohol, heat it up, and breath in the vapors through a straw.  Multiple videos on YouTube show young people giving it a try.

Susan Smolinske, Director of the Children’s Hospital of Michigan Regional Poison Control Center, says it creates an instant and euphoric high, but users are likely to take in more than their bodies can handle.

“People are more likely, perhaps, to do this continuously. Because that quick rush goes away quickly, and you wanna have it back again,”  Smolinske told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Sandra McNeil.

“They may inhale every 20 minutes, because the effect leaves the brain more quickly — but it doesn’t leave the body,” she explained. “Everybody’s body has an inherent ability to get rid of alcohol, and most of it, when you inhale it in, is not inhaled back out.”

Smolinske said this, and similar alcohol-ingestion fads, could cause liver problems.

“It could create alcoholics,” Smolinske said. “I think it’s particularly dangerous for teenagers who are naive to alcohol and their livers aren’t prepared to get rid of it.”

Smolinske said while some people are doing it at home using candles, a few bars offer it, and there are even companies selling products to make the so-called “Vaportini.”

“They came out with a commercial device that, for $30, you can buy a kit … with some very false or misleading advertising that suggests that it has no calories and that it will wear off more quickly, et cetera,” she said.

Smolinske said, as a trend, it’s been has been on their radar for a couple of months.

“And actually, it’s not new. It’s new as a substance of abuse, perhaps, but actually in the 1950s it was used for treating people with pulmonary edema.”

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