Teens Turning To Hand Sanitizer To Get Drunk

April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 8:37 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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April 25, 2012 Updated Apr 25, 2012 at 8:37 AM EDT

Buffalo, N.Y. (WKBW) – Health officials are sounding the alarm after six teens were recently hospitalized for drinking alcohol based hand sanitizer to get drunk. They want parents to know that this practice is not only dangerous, but deadly.

These sanitizers are made up of 65 percent Ethyl Alcohol, formulated to kill nearly 100 percent of germs. Now, teens across the country are using it to get drunk and several have been rushed to the emergency room.

Videos on YouTube show teens drinking the product. Doctors said some drink it straight, others figured out how to separate the alcohol. This separation makes it as potent as hard liquor.

"We're talking about 120-proof alcoholic beverages, so that's like several shots of hard liquor. A few swallows is all it takes to get a person to get the intoxicating effects of alcohol,” Representative with the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles, California said.

Calls to poison control, involving teens deliberately ingesting hand sanitizer, are on the rise. Doctors said parents should buy the foam kind instead of the gel. They should also check the levels of alcohol in the product they use at home.

Teens could end up in a coma if they drink too much hand sanitizer. Anyone who suspected an overdose can call poison control 24 hours a day at (800) 222-1222.