Some teenagers have found a new way to get drunk without going to a liquor store; they're turning to hand sanitizer. But the effects can be just as harmful and even lead to death.
It's no longer just a way to get your hands clean, but now it's being used like a shot of hard liquor. Officials in KELOLAND are seeing more kids from eighth grade to tenth grade using it.
"We saw this trend of kids drinking the hand sanitizer and now we are seeing it resurface. Unfortunately what parents may not realize or adults is that the alcohol content in that hand sanitizer usually runs between 60 to 65 percent alcohol," Prairie View Prevention Director Darcy Jensen said.
When compared to hard liquor there is only about a 10 to 15 percent difference in alcohol content. But the danger can be just as bad, if not worse.
"This isn't a joke. This can be a health problem that is long-lasting and there have been across the U.S. fatalities," Jensen said.
Jensen says the best way to get ahead of this is having open conversations with your kids.
"I think we just need to be vigilant in our prevention and explain to our kids that this could be alcohol poisoning," Jensen said.
Jensen also suggests keeping a watchful eye out because symptoms can be very similar to being drunk.
"Parents should watch for the same things they would watch for if someone was intoxicated; the slurred speech, difficulty with balance and coordination. It might be that they are comatose and that they have actually, so called, passed out," Jensen said.
As times change, Jensen says so will the ways that kids look to get high and drunk. But she thinks it is something we can stop before it gets out of control.
"I think it's very important that we do the education and prevention. That's the only way we are going to change the community norms and get a handle on these things and understand the risks of alcohol whatever form it might come in," Jensen said.
The biggest factor Jensen stresses is that parents, friends, teachers and even sales clerks need to be watchful of this. If you notice kids buying more hand sanitizer or carrying it with them more than usual, that is definitely a sign you want to watch out for.
Jensen also says depending on the different types of hand sanitizers that are out there the consequences can vary from alcohol poisoning, liver failure, brain damage and even death.