George, a senior majoring in accounting who asked to be identified by a different name, said one night a few months ago, he gave into curiosity.
He decided to smoke alcohol.
“I didn’t like the sensation,” he said. “It was very strange. I really didn’t know what to do. I didn’t really want to try it in the first place, but I was so curious. You are heating up the liquid as you inhale the fumes. It was a very warm sensation — I am not a fan.”
George said he did not feel the effects and does not see the appeal. He took one hit and never went back.
Whether by a device called the Vaportini, which George used, or a
homemade device involving a plastic bottle, a cork and a bike pump, a
dangerous new trend is making its way through universities — smoking alcohol.
Though the myth of dietary benefits rings true, promising weight loss by not ingesting the calories of alcoholic drinks, the detriments of this fad are even greater.
“It is a very dangerous trend,” Jennifer Parker, coordinator of alcohol and other drugs awareness and prevention initiatives at Wellness USF, said. “It can greatly increase the risk of alcohol poisoning, which can greatly increase the risk of death.”
As the alcohol goes directly from the lungs to the brain and into the blood stream, Parker said the dangers lie in not being able to determine how much alcohol goes into the system, as well as alcohol skipping the normal process of consumption, allowing for an increased risk of alcohol poisoning.
“The problem is that alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system, which is responsible for your breathing and your heart rate,” Parker said. “It
suppresses the natural things that happen, such as breathing. (Alcohol consumption) suppresses the central nervous system so much that your nerves forget what they are supposed to do. So if a person is overly intoxicated, the breathing may just stop.”
A claim that may be appealing to underage drinkers is that smoking
alcohol will make detection more difficult. However, Parker said there are no evident truths to the claim.
“If you inhale a substance, it goes into your lungs and will still be on your breath when you exhale,” Parker said.
Experimenting with alcohol consumption is not a new concept. According to many recent news reports, butt-chugging and inserting alcohol-soaked tampons are trends making their way around.
The importance of a drinking limit set at a higher age is in the confidence that consumers will make suitable judgments while consuming.
Like any alcohol consumption, moderation is key; however, because smoking alcohol hits the bloodstream faster, moderation may become difficult to control.
In cases of Breathalyzer detection, Parker said alcohol will be evident in the bloodstream and that the method of consumption doesn’t make a difference.
“When alcohol is digested, it ends up in the blood,” Parker said. “When you drink it, it travels through the digestive system and ends up in the blood. When you smoke it, it also ends up in the blood, but faster. They both have the same end result.”
After researching University Police’s database, Lt. Charlotte Domingo said she was unable to identify any cases related to smoking alcohol.
“When our officers encounter individuals who are in possession of or are under the influence of alcohol, regardless of the method of ingestion, they are dealt with via both criminal prosecution and through referral to Student Rights and Responsibilities for violation of the Student Code of Conduct,” Domingo wrote in an email to The Oracle.