Doctors are growing concerned over a new, potentially dangerous way young people are consuming alcohol: smoking it.
On YouTube, videos posted by young people show them inhaling wispy vapor swirls coming out of their drink bottles. Unlike drinking alcohol, where the liquid is metabolized through one’s liver, inhaling alcoholic vapors sends ethanol straight to the lungs, the blood stream and ultimately, the brain.
“Do not try this. This is extremely dangerous,” said Dr. Robert Glatter, emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital.
“The danger mainly is that it leads to rapid intoxication in that you don't know you're getting drunk that fast,” Glatter said.
Thousands of curious viewers have logged on to watch the YouTube videos about smoking alcohol. There is even a website selling the “vaportini,” a piece of glassware specifically designed to help people inhale alcoholic vapor.
Julie Palmer, the inventor of the vaportini, told NBC 4 New York her product is not intended for binge alcoholic consumption.
“Vaportini is not about getting drunk as fast as you can. It is about enjoying alcohol in a new way,” Palmer said.
Glatter recently wrote a blog post about smoking alcohol in which he warned parents that this way of imbibing alcohol is particularly risky for kids because they may not know when to stop inhaling.
“When people drink, the normal sensation when they get more and more drunk is to vomit. It's your body's way of expelling alcohol is to vomit," he wrote. "However your brain can't expel alcohol, so it's extremely dangerous."