It is seriously mind blowing to think of someone deliberately drinking hand sanitizer to get high. But, just as teens may drink cough syrup or inhale cleaning fluids from a can, some have discovered hand sanitizers as the source of a potential high. And it isn’t just teens who are imbibing these products, adults, too, have been using hand sanitizers to get high. One woman, a middle-aged banker at Wells Fargo, admitted to purposely drinking hand sanitizer throughout the day as an antidote to the high-stress work environment…and then realized she had become addicted to it.
In 2015, 1,394 incidents of intentionally ingested hand sanitizer occurred, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. In fact, there have been fourteen published case reports in medical journals of adults intentionally ingesting hand sanitizer, with the median age being 44, and one of these individuals died. Yes, hand sanitizer addiction is really a thing.
Is Hand Sanitizer Dangerous?
Hand sanitizers are composed of either ethyl alcohol, like what you would find in an alcoholic beverage, and isopropyl alcohol, otherwise known as rubbing alcohol. In the products that contain the ethyl alcohol, the percent of the alcohol in a single bottle is a whopping 60% or higher. Contrast that with the alcohol content found in wine (11%) or beer (4%). Even spirits like vodka and whiskey have just 40% alcohol content. This means that if someone ingests a small bottle of hand sanitizer they could risk alcohol poisoning.
Unfortunately, young people have learned to separate the ethyl alcohol from the gel by adding salt to the product. They have coined terms for this stripped version of the hand sanitizer when mixed with Listerine, such as “hand sanity fix,” “Mr. Clean’s Tears,” and “hand sani-tripping.”
The hand sanitizers made from rubbing alcohol present a toxicity level that is toxic to the central nervous system. In addition to the rubbing alcohol, these products add several other chemical ingredients, all of which are also toxic to the central nervous system. An incident reported in the New England Journal of Medicine cites a 43-year old male alcoholic from Ohio who drank hand sanitizer straight from a hospital’s wall-mounted unit that had 63% rubbing alcohol, stating that the sanitizer “had a higher alcohol percentage than vodka.”
How Does a Hand Sanitizer Addiction Develop?
People who chose to drink these products are typically teens and young adults looking for a cheap and powerful high that is easily accessible, or people with an alcohol addiction who have to resort to these types of sources for alcohol to hide the fact that they are still imbibing. As with any substance that contains an addictive substance, ingesting hand sanitizers that contain ethanol can create a high. The individual may then want to re-experience that high and will continue to drink hand sanitizers for that purpose. Over time, any alcohol-containing beverage will begin to lose its impact as tolerance increases. The individual in turn increases the amount of hand sanitizer consumed, attempting to achieve the original high. This is how addiction to hand sanitizer can develop.
With that in mind, getting treatment for a hand sanitizer addiction is the same as getting treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction. The individual will need to receive professional therapy that helps them understand the driving forces for their propensity to use hand sanitizers for a high, and then make behavioral changes to overcome the addiction.
The Treatment Specialist Can Locate Treatment for Hand Sanitizer Addiction
The Treatment Specialist provides free locator services for individuals struggling with a hand sanitizer addiction who are in need of professional addiction treatment. The Treatment Specialist can assess your treatment needs and then guide you to a highly qualified addiction treatment program. Included in the free service is an insurance review, so you will know up front what your plan covers. For more information about how The Treatment Specialist can locate a quality rehab for hand sanitizer addiction, contact us today at (866) 644-7911.