Sipping on a glass of Barefoot Moscato, throwing back a few pints of Guinness, nursing a whiskey sour: is drinking alcohol becoming a thing of the past? A dangerous new trend among teens and college students has them “smoking” their alcohol as opposed to enjoying it the old-fashioned way.
The trend emerged in 2004 with the AWOL (alcohol without liquid) device, which quickly became banned by the U.S government. Now smoking alcohol has reemerged as satisfying the American need for instant drunk gratification.
Smoking alcohol can be done by pouring the alcohol of one’s choosing over dry ice and then inhaling it directly or with a straw. A do-it-yourself vaporizing kit can be made with a bike pump or one can resort to purchasing a product specially designed to vaporize alcohol, like the Vaportini, which retails for thirty dollars.
Those most attracted to this new method are individuals, coined as “drunkorexics,” looking to lose weight. Vaportini’s website boasts that smoking alcohol “has the advantage of no calories; no carbs; no impurities.” Other sources, such as the Forbes website, attempt to debunk this, claiming that “there are still calories involved when you vaporize alcohol. If you are feeling the effects of the alcohol, it means that you are absorbing the calories associated with ethanol.”
Cited among eye socket shots and alcohol enemas as a harmful new method to get drunk quicker, smoking alcohol leads to a higher risk of alcohol poisoning and the potential for overdosing. The smoked alcohol bypasses the stomach and liver, going straight from the lungs to the brain and the bloodstream. The body doesn’t metabolize the alcohol so the individual doesn’t vomit, preventing an individual from releasing the toxins that thwart overdose.
This new trend is an example of the “drink to get drunk” culture that has intoxicated American society. Gone are the days when friends can hang out in a bar or pub and simply enjoy their drink. Now most are obsessed with consuming as much as they can, as fast as they can. This is more prevalent, it seems, in the underage drinking culture, and has lead to more dangerous situations involving alcohol poisoning.
In the rest of the world, particularly in Europe, many perceive the drinking culture as more relaxed partly because the legal drinking age is younger. Tactics like playing games such as beer pong to get drunk faster are considerably less common outside of the United States. Drinking to get drunk is more common, especially in the college atmosphere, than casually drinking as a way to share culture, stories, and socialize with friends.