Alcohol used to be the simple drug
You drank it, clear and simple. Now, however, it’s crossed into another way of consumption: inhalation. Like so many things humans do, the motivation behind inhalation seems to be…calories. In bypassing the digestive system, those steadily mounting calories can be avoided, but in doing so, it also means the alcohol isn’t broken down properly.
As Dr. Lawrence Pohl says is “the concern is it can go to the bloodstream quickly, to the brain quickly, to the lungs.” Buffering factors like food in the stomach—which help to slow absorption—are voided as the vaporized alcohol goes right into the blood, sending BAC upward very quickly.
This is especially alarming considering 95% of alcohol is metabolized by the liver. Inhalation completely circumvents this crucial breakdown. The National Alcohol Research Center has conducted studies on lab rats using alcohol vapor. The results aren’t surprising: high levels of intoxication and addiction.
That said, according to users inhalation is superior for a number of reasons. They state that it produces a “euphoric high,” while requiring less alcohol to be consumed. Also, by not passing down the usual metabolic pathway, alcohol’s diuretic effect—making you “relieve” yourself—is reduced. And since you’re not as miserably dehydrated, your hangover is prevented.
There are a few ways to go about this. One way that has been promoted is called a Vaportini. This is more or less a glass bong filled with a little alcohol, a candle underneath, and after a few minutes of heat—voila—vaporized alcohol. Another method that’s a bit sketchier involves pouring liquor over dry ice and inhaling the vapor.
Though both methods are hardly safe according to doctors, breathing in dry ice is an added danger. Dry ice’s fumes are extremely cold, which in itself is harmful to the lungs. Another issue is called hypercapnea: toxic high levels of CO2 in the lungs.
Alcohol inhalation has been in the news lately, but it’s not completely novel. AWOL or Alcohol Without Liquid was a very similar concept first introduced in Europe and Asia around 2004. Steadily, half of the United States made it illegal. Do we really need another way of making intoxication easier? Especially in a country that, while the number of DUIs has decreased, reports that 1 in every 121 licensed driver gets arrested for driving drunk.
Dr. Mike Mavrostomos is passionate and top-quality comprehensive care dentist located in Bedminster, NJ whose continual pursuit of education and state-of-the-art dentistry has led to his being recognized as one of New Jersey’s Top Dentists by the New Jersey Top-Docs committee. Check out our website, Twitter, and Facebook page. Connect and get to know us!