Smoking Alcohol: The New Method Of Getting Drunk

Having practiced New Hampshire DWI law for a number of years, it never fails to surprise us the creative methods people come up with for getting drunk; however, the newest form of drinking, called “smoking” alcohol, is raising a number of concerns.

The preferred form of becoming intoxicated used to be taking shots. While any form of excessive drinking is undoubtedly dangerous, whether pouring shots into your eye socket or using beer bongs, some people are taking it a step further by “smoking” alcohol. This questionable activity, which can result in some frightening consequences, has various permutations.

To smoke alcohol, a person pours the liquor over dry ice and inhales or with a draw or directly. Some people choose to use DIY vaporizing kits with bicycle pumps. The preferred alcohol of choice is poured into a bottle. The bottle is sealed or corked, and then, the needle of the bicycle pump is inserted through the top of the seal. Air is then pumped into the chosen bottle to vaporize the alcohol and inhaled.

Back in 2004, the United States saw a brief rise in the trend of using AWOL (alcohol without liquid) devices, as these devices became more readily available to the public. However, the product lost its following in the U.S. after it was promptly banned.

Now, ten years later, physicians and clinicians are noticing evidence that the practice of smoking alcohol is rising in popularity. What is surprising is that the practice is not just on the rise with juvenile risk takers and the college crowd, but also among adults. It is becoming increasingly prevalent among those who are dieting and do not want to consume the calories that alcohol contains.

The Chief Clinical Officer of CRC Health Group, Dr. Deni Carise, has stated that individuals mistakenly believe that it is an ideal method of obtaining the effects of alcohol without the associated weight gain, because alcohol contains an inordinate amount of empty calories. CRC Health Group is an educational and treatment program provider for persons who are struggling with eating disorders, chemical dependency, and behavioral issues. Dr. Carise believes the popularity of this new trend among adolescents can be attributed to the fact that they view the practice as exciting and novel.

When the vapor of alcohol is inhaled, it is delivered directly from the lungs to the bloodstream and brain. This causes the user to become very drunk, very quickly. Since the alcohol bypasses the liver and stomach, it isn’t metabolized by the body, and consequently, it doesn’t lose any of its potency. Drinkers start to feel the effects of alcohol consumption almost instantaneously; however, the associated risks are much greater. A person who smokes alcohol, as opposed to drinking it, has a substantially higher risk of possibly overdosing or getting alcohol poisoning. When a person consumes too much alcohol, they have a tendency to vomit. Vomiting is one of the methods the human body uses to avoid an alcohol overdose. However, the human body cannot expel alcohol when it bypasses the liver and stomach.

It also becomes much harder for a person to know exactly how much alcohol they’ve consumed in one sitting if they are not keeping a close eye on how much they’ve had to drink. If a single cup of alcohol is poured into a bottle and then vaporized, the person who is drinking has no way of telling if they’ve inhaled just a few sips or the whole cup of alcohol, because the liquid remains within the bottle.

Dr. Carise goes on to say that smoking alcohol is especially harmful to the nasal passages and lungs, because the human body’s lungs are not designed to inhale a substance that can be transformed back into a liquid. Typically, when a person thinks of liquid within the lungs, they think of drowning.

Currently, the true prevalence of this trend remains unclear, because there are no ongoing studies tracking the current number of cases. However, like other recent drinking fads, homemade videos of people smoking and inhaling alcohol have been popping up in increasing numbers on YouTube, Vine, and other media sharing sites.

The bar scene has also noticed an increase in the trend with readily available devices, such as the Vaportini. This device can be legally sold in all 50 states. The Vaportini manufacturer’s website states:

“This has the advantage of no calories; no carbs, no impurities and the effects of consuming alcohol are immediately felt, making it easier to responsibly imbibe.”

If there is an upside to these types of devices, it is that the beverages are generally consumed in wide glasses, so the effects of smoking alcohol are not quite as concentrated. However, many still find the concept of this practice disturbing. According to Dr. Carise, it is amazing what individuals will do to get drunk.

It has yet to be determined if this trend is here to stay or what effects it will have on motorists who drive while intoxicated. Some have theorized that it could present problems for law enforcement officials, because the “odor” of alcohol, which is one of the key indicators of an intoxicated motorist, is not present when alcohol is smoked, but such concerns could be premature.

If you have been arrested and charged with a DWI in the state of New Hampshire, regardless of whether you were smoking alcohol or consumed it the old fashioned way, contact our law firm today to speak with one of our experienced New Hampshire DWI lawyers. Everyone makes mistakes, but it does not have to ruin your life. Your initial consultation is free, and our DWI attorneys will work closely with you to achieve the best possible outcome for your case.