Although they probably don t realize it, teens have discovered a potentially deadly way of getting drunk inhaling alcohol vapors sometimes called vaping (not to be confused with use of electronic cigarettes). As reported on WCBS-TV (channel 2 in New York), alcohol vapor inhalation sends the drug directly to the bloodstream, resulting in a much faster high than if the same amount had been consumed normally.
But not only is the effect faster, it can well be more intense and dangerous, since there is no way to reverse inhalation. In contrast, of course, drinking too much alcohol can be reversed by regurgitation potentially preventing alcohol s depressing effects on central nervous system functions such as control of breathing.
ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom explains, This is somewhat analogous to the difference in the effects of cocaine and crack. Although they are the same drug, it is the inhalation of crack vapor that causes a much faster (and more dangerous) pharmacological response. It s simply a matter of getting more of the drug to the brain more quickly.
WCBS quoted adolescent addiction specialist John Corbet: For the adolescent it s very exciting because the effects are immediate, which meets their impulsive nature.
ACSH s Dr. Gil Ross observed I doubt that most teens who try this method are really trying to kill themselves, but it would be easy to do. Parents and others involved with teens should be aware of the possibility of their trying alcohol vaping and be sure the youngsters really understand the risks involved.