Parents need to be aware of a dangerous new trend in alcohol consumption – and it doesn’t involve drinking, but rather, breathing.
Dubbed the “Vaportini,” this new device hit the market last December and vaporizes alcohol so that it can be inhaled. The apparatus includes a pint glass, tea light, metal ring, glass globe and straw; when constructed together, it heats the liquor and releases its vapor. The components of the device are important to remember, as it looks fairly innocuous.
In reality, though, it can be quite dangerous. Once the vapors are inhaled, the alcohol is immediately absorbed into the bloodstream, creating instant impairment. The effects can be felt instantaneously because the alcohol is not absorbed through the digestive tract, but rather, the lungs.
There are many aspects of this device that are concerning. First and foremost, it is currently legal in all states and readily available for sale on the internet for $30.
From a health and pharmacologic perspective, inhaling alcoholic vapors is worrisome because:
- It is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream
- It bypasses the body’s natural defenses against alcohol poisoning, since it avoids the liver
- There are no known studies on human safety
- A similar device, Alcohol Without Liquid (AWOL), is banned in 22 states
- It has potential to be harmful to the brain, especially in adolescents
Because the specific side effects haven’t been studied in humans, it is important to treat “Vaportinis” as any other dangerous inhalant. The adverse effects of inhalant abuse can be immediate and even fatal. You can find more information about how serious inhalant abuse is in the education materials section of our web site.
As with any new harmful trend, it is important for parents to talk to their kids about it. Make them aware of its existence, what it looks like, and why it’s so dangerous. Using questions in a nonjudgmental, open-ended way is more likely to result in an honest response. If you have further concerns about this trend please call your local Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222.