FORT MYERS, Florida (WBBH) - Teens are turning to a dangerous new trend to get drunk. It's known as "smoking alcohol."
WBBH-TV Investigator Dave Elias discovered it's such a concern that local experts are going into Southwest Florida Schools to warn kids it can be deadly.
"There's a lot of rumors of parties, but it seems like a really bad idea," said FGCU student Maria Cochran.
We discovered many young people are turning their dorms and basements into laboratories all for a quick buzz.
Dr. Timothy Dougherty is a toxicologist at Lee Memorial Health Systems and he says the vapor immediately gets into the blood stream and from the blood stream travels to the brain.
With how-to videos on the web; the word is getting around quickly, which worries doctors.
"There's not studies. We don't know the long-terms affects of this and that's the scary part," Dougherty said.
Smoking alcohol doesn't need a flame. It's about inhaling alcoholic vapors which doctors say can be deadly.
While we're not going to explain exactly how the kids are discovering their reasons are unfounded. Some think inhaling vapors will avoid a DUI charge.
"The way that you got drunk is inhaling it. The way that you will get caught by a DUI is by exhaling it," Dr. Dougherty explained.
Others think they can avoid the calories, but Dougherty said that's not true.
"If you inhale the vapors or if I stick a line in you and give you alcohol through your vein, you're still going to get the calories," Dr. Dougherty said.
While the problem doesn't seem to be widespread yet, in Lee County there do appear to be some students aware of it at the high school level.
"Out of a small study that we did with 50 students total only four were actually aware of it," said Syndi Bultman, R.N. Injury Prevention and Resource Manager at Lee Memorial Health Systems.
"When they're smoking the alcohol it's not hitting their digestive system, so they're not getting an early warning sign that says you had to much," Bultman explained,
It's a toxic trend doctors want to stop before the fad gets out of hand.
"So far, we haven't had people volunteering that's how they got intoxicated, but we certainly have our share of teens and young adults coming in intoxicated," Dr. Dougherty said.
Further investigations discovered that it is still illegal for those under 21 to inhale the alcohol.
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