Kids getting wasted on hand sanitizer (still)

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This seems like another one of those kids-these-days-are-appalling headlines. I’m sure there are people out there getting hammered on hand sanitizer, but is this really a trend among children under 12, or is it just a few isolated incidents that have no broader significance?

But also, we need to cut down on the presence of hand sanitizer. It’s everywhere. Let them be exposed to some viruses and bacteria and allergens. They’ll live, and they’ll be stronger for it.


A good friend of mine was a Marine posted in Afghanistan, and he told me that, being a dry country, it was impossible to get alcohol there, so soldiers would buy nonalcoholic beer at the PX and add enough hand sanitizer to make it alcoholic.

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Which, ironically, he could have been doing while too young to legally purchase alcohol in the U.S…


See this is the problem with people having smaller families. Back in they day you could have your older brother hook you up with beer.


As a dad, I totally agree.

Also, I’ve heard more than once that it’s much easier for kids to get weed than liquor. If that’s true, who the hell would drink detergent?


I have my doubts about ‘new trends’ and ‘epidemics’; but the outlines seems sound enough.

Your Purell or equivalent is 70-75% ethanol, with some amount of isopropanol and bitterant added to discourage ingestion; some brands(and most of the liquid ‘rubbing alchohol’ rather than gel products, lean a lot harder on the isopropanol).

That, along with the mania for ‘sanitizing’ things that definitely seems to be active in schools and the like, means abundant supplies of stuff that will get you hammered pretty effectively(and, if you are lucky, leans heavily enough toward ethanol that competition for alcohol dehydrogenase will keep the more toxic metabolites of non-ethanol alcohols to a minimum), within easy reach of kids, along with similar-looking-if-you-don’t-know-what-you-are-doing products that are denatured good and hard and very unlikely to be a good beverage choice.

I find the ‘trend’ questionable and demand suitably vetted statistics; but the mechanics of at least occasional occurrence seem solid.

Also @nungesser Did the DoD seriously keep booze away from its own people in deference to the local sensibilities at the same time we were more or less enthusiastically not making friends in the region? I can understand wanting to minimize the risk that soldiers you might end up needing in a hurry, when the green zone starts turning red without notice, have access to alcohol; but I thought that it was basically standard across the allegedly-dry muslim world for people to look the other way at expats with booze, so long as they mostly kept it to themselves and didn’t make noise about it.

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There’s nothing like the double-tap of Korodil follow by a shot of hand sanitizer.

(Only Chechans would do hand sanitizer followed by Krokodil, which is totally primitive, unless the hand sanitzer shot is on fire).


That’s what I was told by Marines in the area. They said alcohol was not to be had, but energy drinks were handed out by the case (Rip It, specifically). Take it with a grain of salt, as I wasn’t there to verify.

Do parents not keep liquor in the house anymore? My wife and I rarely drink but you’d think we are seasoned alcoholics by the amount of booze we have. I’m pretty sure a fifth or two could disappear and I wouldn’t know.

My parents have the same bottles of liquor from when I was a kid… I’m pretty sure that bottle of Beefeater is so dry there isn’t anything even in it.


I throw the stuff out in insane quantities. The kids’ schools have thousands of little “purse size” bottles of it everywhere, that the teachers encourage the kids to take and put in their backpacks. Every week I throw out a half dozen or more bottles, and when I go to open house type events I chuck every bottle I see into the rubbish tip - I’ll cheerfully trash cases of the stuff. I do it openly, so that I can educate people about the stuff when they try to stop me. (I’m sure they pull it back out of the trash as soon as I leave, but I do it anyway.) I throw it out at work too, the nasty stuff shows up everywhere.

This is basically how I know my kids aren’t drinking hand sanitizer. They could steal a couple of shots of tequila instead, and if they weren’t breathing liquor fumes in my face I’d probably never notice.


Never did that for my younger brother but then he is all of a year and half younger and the parents were always of the you want to get drunk, the booze is right over there just drink here and do go out.
I will say one of the more surreal time I had not long after turning 21 was going a booze run for the residence hall friends who were not of age yet. No no I am not getting beer, rum, vodka, and gin for that group over there, all for myself, really.

And to the topic at hand… When this stuff first came out I noticed that a lot of them listed Ethyl I wondered who had already tried getting a buzz off of it.

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I had the same experience visiting my girlfriend’s dorm in college. They had me go to the bottle shop and pick up 40s for everyone. For some reason I could only purchase 4 bottles at a time. So I had to go in, buy 4 bottles, carry them out to the underage kids, go back in and buy 4 more bottles, lather rinse repeat. It was all a travesty.

By the time those kids graduated, they all had citations for both minor in possession AND furnishing alcohol to minors. What is even the point.

My kids could pretty easily fill their water bottles with vodka or gin from our supply. Not sure how long they could get away with that before I detected it. Hopefully if they need something to take the edge off, they’ll do that instead of hitting the hand sanitizer or the sharpies.

Yes. Yes they fucking did. And there is nothing I’ve found (other than some particular family engagements) that is more sad to see on July the 4th than a two full palettes of near beer left in the supernova-like heat of the Middle East and intended to improve the celebration…along with a brace of godamn camels. When presented with the option to take part in the celebration, I made off with a case of the stuff, half of which was drunk as fast as humanly possible in the hopes that the alcohol would accumulate and get me drunk (it most assuredly did not), and the other half may or may not have been used as projectiles from the surgical-tubing-slingshot on the top of our apartment.

IIRC, the Saudis told Bush that they would lift the restriction for American troops, but Bush felt that would make us look too much like mercenaries…


Yeah, but the Ukrainians use a DIY’d microwave oven to heat theirs.


Can someone explain succinctly just why isopropyl alcohol causes permanent blindness? I certainly can’t doubt that it happens, but the notion of “put this in your stomach and it will ruin your eyes!” seems so counter-intuitive. Is it a likely occurrence?

I work in an urban downtown library where there many individuals living in the streets who have severe addictions; we have had to be very careful about where we install dispensers, but even then, every few months someone will crack one open and steal it. So yeah, it happens. If it is happening a lot at schools, it is probably a symptom of bigger issues than just trying to get a cheap buzz.

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No blindness mentioned here but it does really fuck up the body pretty badly, including the central nervous system which is where I imagine it could cause blindness.

Prison inmates have been doing this for years apparently. Can’t imagine something tasting more foul than hand sanitizer and Kool aid.

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From what my brother, father, and assorted vet friends tell me yeah. But I highly doubt too many people were drinking hand sanitizer and mouthwash like you sometimes here. Early on it was pretty trivial for family to ship hard liquor over in care packages. We sent my brother a case of bourbon (it was to be traded to have the armor installed on his humvee, the Bush administration really did support our troups!). After they started actually checking those things to see if they conformed to their customs sheets you would dye vodka blue and put it in a mouth wash bottle. Air crews have a long standing habit of stocking x number of cases of beer when flying in from wet countries in cargo planes. X being determined by the size of the aircraft, crew area, and weight restrictions. I’ve heard a lot of stories about mechanics, especially on flight lines building stills, and I know a few people who learned to make shine over there in just such a situation. And pruno was supposedly plenty common. Though the military term for it is jungle juice, apparently usually made from OJ or the bug juice packets from MRE’s (we sent the brother several boxes of bread yeast). These became a pretty requested item in care packages the minute they hit the market. I know a few MPs who worked customs where the troops were heading in and out, you had to confiscate any booze headed into to dry countries, but standard practice was to simply wander off and recirculate a certain amount of it.

So what I’m getting at is this stuff was available. And there was a thriving black market in hooch of all sorts. So from what I understand if you wanted a drink it could be had or made. So potentially poisoning yourself doesn’t seem to have been necessary. But then I wasn’t there, and the people I know who were. Well they went over at or near the beginning and were back years before it was over.

I think they’re confusing isopropyl with methyl alcohol. IIRC at common exposure levels isopropyl usually just causes GI issues and stomach irritation/pain. Methyl however will cause blindness, and if I’m remembering it right you have to drink a lot or drink it regularly for the blindness to be permanent. Both can be added to ethyl alcohol to 'denature" it, but isopropyl is the more common because its less likely to kill you. Methyl is the contaminant in distilled alcohol that is commonly cited as the reason its so dangerous to distill at home. Its a natural byproduct of fermentation that can be concentrated with improper distillation (and removed if you do it right). But you really have to fuck up or not know what your doing to concentrate it enough to cause a problem. So from what I understand most of the cases of methyl alcohol poisoning, especially from prohibition, were the result of deliberate contamination. Either by unscrupulous producers looking to stretch their product with something cheaply and legally available, or (surprisingly) by the authorities in order to scare people off illicit booze.